Top Energy network survives big wet
Top Energy network survives big wet
Although last Thursday’s deluge may have a repair bill some estimate will top $80 million dollars, including $20 million in road repairs, Top Energy’s lines network weathered the storm relatively well. However, the company’s new Southern Depot at Puketona did not fare so well.
Power outages on the network were widespread, caused mainly by landslides and falling trees on rain-soaked, destabilised ground, causing damage to poles, bringing down lines and in one case, burying a transformer and switchgear altogether.
Unfortunately, Top Energy’s ability to respond immediately to many of these outages was severely restricted due to flooding and landslides closing roads and effectively blocking repair crew access. However, the company was able to restore power relatively quickly to many affected consumers by Thursday afternoon and almost all by Friday. In one instance, the company used a helicopter to fly in a line engineer to help effect emergency repairs. The helicopter was again used the following day to accurately determine whether road access was possible to the remaining outage areas.
A summary of major power outages is as follows:
Russell Peninsula – A main feeder line was felled by trees at a number of locations, but because road access was completely blocked from Thursday am to Friday mid-day the company had no ability to get crews or equipment onto the peninsula. Temporary repairs were carried out by a single crew stranded in Russell and an engineer was helicoptered in late Thursday to assist with the switch over. Power was restored to most of the 1,423 affected households by Thursday evening.
Opua – Land slides and falling trees brought down power poles and lines. However, road access was completely blocked until mid-day Friday, preventing any repair work being undertaken. Within 2 hours or the road reopening, line crews restored power to most of the 646 households affected. The Kawakawa road was then checked for further damage and power was restored to the remaining households in the area by 3.00pm.
Totara North – Feeder lines were brought down as a result of exotic trees falling in a remote forest block. Further faults occurred, as transformer and switchgear equipment was buried under a landslide and a transformer was totally submerged in floodwaters. Line crews operating out of the company’s Kaitaia depot restored power to most affected households, with the exception of a few homes where a transformer and switchgear had been buried beneath a slip.
Haruru Falls - Sodden ground destabilised a high voltage pole and brought down lines.
Paihia / Te Haumi – A landslide brought down a pole which blocked the main road.
Whangaroa/Kaeo/Tauranga Bay/Wainui/Matangirau/Kapiro – Landslips and flooding caused multiple outages and road closures slowed repairs.
Awarua/Tautoro/Twin Bridges - Following reports of sparking wires on fences, the feeder line was isolated for safety reasons. Wind had also brought down power lines in other locations.
In many areas across the network local supply had to be turned off because transformers were under flood waters.
According to Top Energy Chief executive, Roger de Bray, line crews performed well over long hours and in very trying conditions. “But we got it all sorted pretty quickly. Our task is made a bit easier because we own the network system and can mobilise our own staff to make these repairs - perhaps in contrast to other infrastructure such as roads, where the asset owner has to coordinate contractors and various consultants to get the work carried out”, he said.
Top Energy’s Contracting Services Depot, which was built beside the Waitangi River at Puketona Junction, was flooded during the storm and suffered significant damage. Electrical equipment stored in the yard was totally submerged. And although the building was constructed half a meter above the designated 100-year flood level, half a meter of water still flowed through it as flooding peaked. The building and stock are insured and repairs are underway.