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Weather Conditions to Blame For Power Supply Delay

Hon Max Bradford
Minister for Enterprise and Commerce

5th July, 1999

Extreme Weather Conditions to Blame For Power Supply Delays

While it is understandable that some Central Otago residents are upset at delays in retoring power to homes, the power reforms are not to blame, Enterprise and and Commerce Minister Max Bradford said today.

"In fact, the reforms have meant there has been a better response and better co-ordination of repair work than there would have been before the reforms," Mr Bradford said.

One hundred and fifty Central Otago customers were without power last night (not the 750 reported by media) and most of these were expected to have power restored by late this afternoon.

TrustPower community relations manager Graeme Purches has also said that there might have been greater delays in restoring power if it were not for the reforms.

As part of the reform process, Central Electric sold its lines in Central Otago to Delta Utilities, the country's fifth largest lines company which is based in Dunedin.

Central Electric's retail electricity business was purchased by Tauranga-based TrustPower.

Mr Bradford said TrustPower's involvement meant that when the storms hit, 18 TrustPower staff were available through a 24-hour call centre to provide advice and co-ordinate repair work.

This was much more than would have been available under Central Electric, which ran a limited hours help-line.
When 150km/h freak winds and snow flurries battered the Central Otago region on Friday, breaking 60 power poles and severing hundreds of lines, Delta was able to mobilise 30 repair staff from Dunedin and surrounding areas to help restore power to homes.

"Delta has stated that this was the first time in living memory that storms caused outages in all three Central Electric areas.

"Because of the reforms power companies were able to respond better than they would have in the past.

"In future they will be able to respond even more quickly once Delta has established a planned centralised control centre in the region," Mr Bradford said.

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