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Far North power outages – Update #4: 1100 hrs

Far North power outages – Update #4: 1100 hrs

About 11,000 Far North households remain without power following extensive damage to the region’s electricity network following the severe storm experienced across the region yesterday and last night. This is down from 12,800 at 0600hrs and Top Energy repair crews have been making good progress since first light this morning.

The areas that continue to be most impacted by the outages are Taipa, Pukenui, Russell and Opononi.

The storm is the most severe event that Top Energy has experienced for at least a decade and the network has sustained extreme damage right across the Far North. Significantly, this extends beyond wires to include poles and other structures. Sturdy concrete electricity poles have been blown down and even snapped and large 50-60 year-old trees have been blown down across lines and access roads.

Usually damage to structures is relatively minor and Top Energy can simply clear tree debris and pull wires back up. But in this case the structural damage will increase repair time significantly. Repairs may be further hampered by more heavy rain and winds of up to 130 km/hr forecast for this afternoon and this evening.

The company is warning that electricity may be off in some areas for as long as 48 hours from now. It is taking advantage of a brief weather window to assess by helicopter the scale and nature of the damage and to develop a prioritised recovery plan. It is expected that this will be in place by early afternoon and Top Energy will then be able to communicate more accurately about anticipated repair times for individual areas.

All of Top Energy’s 75 field staff are involved in repair work today. They are being assisted by two crews from Counties Power and the company is extremely grateful for their help. A decision on whether or not additional help is needed will be made following the damage assessment currently taking place.

Top Energy’s Ngawha geothermal power station stayed on throughout yesterday and last night. It lost one of its outgoing 33kv lines but was able to use the second line.

Top Energy is reassuring those who continue to experience a power outage that the company is aware of all the main lines that still need to be repaired and will send crews to these sites as soon as possible.

Lines to some individual homes may have been damaged. If any householders remain without power after noon today they should contact the Top Energy call centre on 0800 867363.

Top Energy is asking members of the public to remain clear of downed powerlines at all times, to keep other people clear and also to keep animals away. That fact that the school holidays are on makes this appeal even more significant – parents are being asked to treat all downed power lines as live and to ensure that children are warned about lines on the ground and kept clear.

END

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