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Seven stormy days

Seven stormy days

On Tuesday Northpower resumed a more normal level of operation. The focus was put on worked that required follow up after most of the known storm faults had been cleared.

The damage to the Northpower network was much greater than caused by cyclone Bola in 1988. It is estimated that up to 80% of the damage was caused by trees falling on power lines. While this storm was not called a cyclone, winds speeds matched those of a category 2-3 cyclone.

At the peak of last weeks storm there were 18,600 customers (40% of the network), without power.

Employees including teams from other Northpower depots as far a-field as Wellington worked in extreme weather conditions to get virtually all Northpower’s main lines operational by Saturday night. Priority was given to faults which restored the maximum number of customers as quickly as possible. The last customers to be restored were those whose own service lines had significant damage such as broken poles.

There were 150 field employees working to restore power each day, which is over three times the amount normally engaged in fieldwork. There was also additional support staff providing hot food, answering fault calls, and directing field staff.

Over 5,500 calls were logged in the faults database. Several times this number were received and dealt with.

Network Services Manager, Calvin Whaley said Northpower acknowledges the extreme distress that some customers experienced when trying to make contact with the company and to get information on the length of time they would be without power.

“Prior to the storm we had budgeted to upgrade our current phone system to provide a better service to customers. Unfortunately under such extreme conditions there will always be some delays,” he said.

“Given the number of faults and the need to get to each fault and assess the damage, we could not commit to specific restoration times in many cases,” he said.

“Amidst the understandably unhappy customers we received lots of positive feedback via email, phone and post. The words of encouragement and gratitude were a real boost for all our staff involved in the storm. The compliments far out numbered the complaints.’ Mr Whaley said.

Northpower advises that claims for losses associated with the storm should be lodged with the customer’s insurance company. Northpower does not discriminate between customers who have insurance and those who do not. We will address legitimate claims for compensation on an individual basis.


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