Note: 6.45pm is when the lights came back on in Surry Hills.
There have been power blackouts across central Sydney and the city’s east.
Energy Australia says it is investigating the problem, but says that the power supply to two major substations cut out.
"Our crews are finding what caused them to switch off, and when they do they can re-route the supply and get power back to everybody," said spokeswoman Kylie Yates.
She says around 70,000 homes and business have been affected.
The power cuts began about 4:45pm AEDT.
Energy Australia says it does not know when power will be restored.
The Roads and Traffic Authority’s spokesman Alec Brown says power failure is causing major disruption on the roads.
"There are up to 100 sets of traffic lights affected by the current outage," he said.
The Fire Brigade says dozens of people stranded in lifts have had to be rescued.
The Sydney Opera House has announced that it is cancelling all performances tonight, while CityRail says its trains have not been affected because they are serviced by a different power supply. – ABC.
A kind of involuntary Earth Hour or two…
Update 31 March
The New South Wales Government has admitted central Sydney’s counter-terrorism emergency warning system has no battery backup, after questions about why it was not activated during yesterday’s massive blackout in the CBD and the city’s east.
The Government has publicly apologised for the two-hour power failure, which blacked out about 70,000 homes and businesses and knocked out 140 sets of traffic lights from 4:30pm (AEDT).
Major roads, including the Harbour Tunnel and the Eastern Distributor, were closed and dozens of people had to be rescued from 34 lifts.
Back-up generators at St Vincent’s Hospital also failed but it says critical patient care was not compromised…
This morning, NSW Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan was forced to concede that the emergency warning system would not have worked anyway.
"There is no battery backup for the system. When the system was designed, it was felt that wasn’t necessary," he said. "They did a risk analysis of when and how this would be used and it was felt at the time that battery backup was not required…”
The blackout has also raised new questions about the state’s power infrastructure.
A major electricity cable has been pinpointed as the source of the power failure. Energy Australia says it could take several months to restore supply from the cable but extra power has been allocated to the CBD in the meantime.
Spokeswoman Kylie Yates says Energy Australia’s fail-safe system automatically shut down the three other major cables when the first one failed. She says it even triggered the backup supply to shut down in order to limit any further damage.
"It’s highly unusual that our backup supply would also be triggered but we needed to be extra cautious and extra prudent and only restore that backup once we were fully certain that it was safe to do so," she said…