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Far North power outages – Update #7: 1100 hrs

Far North power outages – Update #7: 1100 hrs

Kerikeri, 10 July 2014 - Top Energy line repair crews working in shifts continue to face difficult conditions as they work on restoring the 33,000 volt (33kV) ‘main feeder lines’ that bring electricity to sub-stations before it is distributed to individual properties. While power has been restored to some customers this morning, high winds and driving rain continue to take a toll on the network and there have been some fresh outages. The nett result is that 7,400 customers are still without power across the Far North.

Most of those off supply are in the northern part of the region, where the damage has been more extensive.

Once crews have restored the 33kV lines they will start repairing the 11,000 volt distribution lines and finally the smaller lines and individual ‘no power’ faults.

The company is reinforcing the point that its priority today remains the repair of main 33kV and 11kV feeder lines and that means that while customers might see crews working near them they are not necessarily working on their particular servicelines. They will come back to these as soon as possible.

The company is also warning that some customers who don’t yet have power may face a third night without it.

“If anyone is aware of any at-risk or seriously ill people who are suffering through the lack of power they should contact emergency services on 111 as soon as possible,” said Top Energy CEO Russell Shaw.

The areas that continue to be most impacted by the outages are Pukenui, Awanui, Te Kao, Te Hapua, Mahiniapua, Peria and Towai.

All of Top Energy’s 75 field staff are hard at work and have been joined in the northern part of the region by crews from Counties Power and WEL Networks. Shaw said the company is “hugely grateful” for this additional support.

People with queries about the status of repairs to their lines should contact the Top Energy call centre on 0800- 867363.

Repairs are being hampered by significant access issues as many trees have been downed across the region’s roads and there is extensive flooding.

At 8am 58 roads across the region were closed or impassable and two State Highways, 11 and 12, were blocked.

“Our lines staff have had to chop trees off roads just so we can get to the lines,” Shaw said.

The company is working closely with the Far North District Council and Fulton Hogan to clear access into sites and this was working well, Shaw said.

The storm is the most severe event that Top Energy has experienced for at least a decade and the scale of the damage to the network, across the entire region, is immense. 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. Winds gusting up to 160 km/hr have ripped lines out of the cross-arms on electricity poles.

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.

“Our customers across the Far North have been terrific,” Shaw said. “They’ve been hugely patient and immensely understanding. They need to know that we’re working tirelessly, within the limits of safety, to restore their electricity supplies.”

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.

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 safety request 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.

CUSTOMERS: For all questions about your power supply and the status of repairs please contact the Top Energy call centre on 0800- TOPENERGY / 0800-867363

ENDS

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