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Challenging conditions for Top Energy’s network repair crews

Challenging conditions for Top Energy’s network repair crews

High winds and heavy rain continue to create challenging conditions for Top Energy’s network repair crews.

The company is describing progress on repairing the backbone of the network as “slow but steady” and while this essential stage of the re-construction process is being undertaken about 3,600 Far North households are still without power – unchanged from 6am this morning. Most of these are in the north of the region, supplied from Kaitaia.

Top Energy’s repair crews resumed work at first light, along with colleagues from Counties Power, WEL Networks and Northpower.

There is one remaining fault on a 33,000 volt (33kV) ‘main feeder line’ in the part of the network supplied from Kaitaia which needs to be repaired before work can start on lower-voltage lines and feeder lines across this part of the region. Top Energy still hopes to have the backbone of this part of the network repaired by nightfall today.

In the south of the region, supplied from Kaikohe, work today has centred on repairing the 11,000 volt distribution lines and finally the smaller lines and individual ‘no power’ faults.

Areas in the northern part of the network that continue to be impacted by the outages are Pukenui, Te Kao, parts of Kaitaia, the Karikari Peninsula, Awanui and North Hokianga, In the south, customers remain affected in in Towai, Rangiahua, South Hokianga and Purerua.

Top Energy continues to receive enquiries about customer welfare needs. Chief executive Russell Shaw is stressing that any request for welfare, such as shelter, fresh water or food, should be directed to the Far North District Council where it will be passed to Civil Defence.

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.

Repair crews continue to face difficult conditions. A high proportion of the region’s roads remain blocked by flooding, and high winds and rain are expected again during the day. Fallen trees also continue to make access to lines difficult but Top Energy is working closely with the Far North District Council and Fulton Hogan to clear these.

Top Energy has been warned by the Met Service that heavy rain and winds gusting in excess of 100 km/hr can be expected over the next 24 hrs. This presents a further set-back for the network recovery process.

CEO Russell Shaw warns that some of those currently without power continue to face an extended period without it.

“I’m sorry to say that, at this stage, it looks like some customers may not have electricity until Sunday or now even Monday.

“We continue to work flat out. If you still have no power the important thing for you to know is that we know you’re there and that we’ll get to you as soon as humanly possible. Hang in there.”

Shaw said the company had received “dozens” of supportive messages and emails from customers across the region, many of whom were still without power.

“This level of feedback during a weather event is unprecedented and has given us all a tremendous boost,” he said. “We are seeing the people of the Far North at their best in the face of this adversity. Our customers have been terrific; hugely patient and understanding. They know we’re working tirelessly, within the limits of safety, to restore electricity supplies.”

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. More than 60 roads across the region, including State Highways 1, 11

and 12, have been closed or impassable in areas.

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

The company is reinforcing the point that its priority remains the repair of main 33kV and 11kV feeder lines.

This means that while customers might see crews working near them they are not necessarily working on individual servicelines. They will come back to these as soon as possible.

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 and this has increased repair time significantly.

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.


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