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Storm Causes Multiple Outages In North Island

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Storm Causes Multiple Outages In Lower And Central North Island

Today’s storm has ripped through the North Island, causing numerous power outages on Powerco’s networks in the Wairarapa, Wanganui and Taranaki.

Powerco General Manager Network Management Peter Hale said many of the outages were the result of heavy snow bringing down lines or winds blowing trees down onto overhead lines.

Mr Hale urged people to be aware of fallen lines, to keep well clear and report them to Powerco’s emergency phone number.

“We are particularly concerned at reports of the storm bringing down lines on roads and urge members of the public to take extreme care.”

If people have a power outage they should contact their electricity retailer. If it is an emergency situation, like overhead lines coming down, then people should contact Powerco’s emergency number 0800 272727.

“Our call center has been inundated with calls from the lower North Island,” Mr Hale said.

Mr Hale said due to the widespread storm damage it was difficult to say when power would be restored to affected areas.

“Our line crews are very busy, working to restore power to affected areas, but the storm continues to cause problems, and our people are finding it difficult to access some of the areas where our networks have been damaged.

“We are asking people to be patient. Our crews are working hard but they do have a significant amount of damage to repair and the storm does not appear to be letting up at this stage.”

“We’re had reports of heavy snow through the Wairarapa, up through the central plateau, around Palmerston North, Wanganui and Taranaki.”

The power failures and faults across the country have put the spotlight on the hazard trees present, both to maintaining power supply and to public safety. It is an issue which needs to be taken seriously and managed by landowners and lines companies together.

Hazards occur when trees grow too close to power lines. For example, when wet bark touches a high voltage power line it becomes a potentially fatal live conductor. Or when branches cause lines to touch each other, they often generate sparks which can cause a fire; or when a fallen branch or tree brings down a line, causing dangerous sparks, it can expose people to live lines and interrupt power supplies.

“When trees growing too close to lines become heavy with snow we see the sort of results our linemen across the country are having to deal with today,” Mr Hale said.

Powerco is New Zealand’s second largest electricity and largest gas distribution utility with around 390,000 consumers connected to its networks. Powerco’s electricity networks are in Tauranga, Thames, Coromandel, Eastern and Southern Waikato, Taranaki, Wanganui, Rangitikei, Manawatu and the Wairarapa. Its gas pipeline networks are in Taranaki, Hutt Valley, Porirua, Wellington, Horowhenua, Manawatu and the Hawke’s Bay.

/ends

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