Vic business owners count cost of blackout

Helen Velissaris and Melissa Meehan

Winery owner Franco D'Anna thinks he will be out of pocket at least $100,000 for five days straight without power.

He was one of thousands in Melbourne's outer east hit by elongated power outages from wild winds last weekend.

Power was restored to Hoddles Creek Winery Thursday evening, five days after the blackout began.

"We've got export orders and bottling to do,' he told AAP on Friday.

"In a tight schedule we're a week behind our production."

More worryingly, with icy conditions hitting the Yarra Valley, Mr D'Anna's crop might be a great risk because he couldn't irrigate his soil to prevent frost.

It takes a couple of days to see if there has been any damage.

"You don't see it straight away, but by Monday morning you might have lost a third of the vineyard," he said.

Long waits on the phone to his power company and a lack of communication had Mr D'Anna struggling to make decisions about his vineyard.

"I was thinking about organising a generator, but because they kept saying the power will come on the next day, we (said) we can maybe deal with it another day,"

"It just kept being one more day."

By 7.30pm on Friday, about 500 people around Ferntree Gully and Lilydale were still without power.

Power company AusNet Services expects most customers to be back online by Friday night, but a handful of customers might have to wait until Saturday morning.

The company says reconnections have taken so long because as big areas of the network are restored, smaller faults are subsequently being discovered with connections to individual homes.

It has also sent out more than 150,000 text messages to customers updating them on the delays.

Victorians who have experienced more than 60 hours of unplanned, sustained power outages are entitled to compensation of $300 from their power company.

AusNet will compensate the eligible customers in their bills early next year.

With a working internet connection now, Mr D'Anna is looking into whether he will be able to file a compensation claim for his unexpected costs and loss of income.

Police are also looking into whether a break-in at Yarra Junction Primary school on Sunday night was linked to the storms.

Nothing was stolen but the gym was flooded and a roller door damaged.