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Network Rebuild a Huge Task

8 March 2012 – 4.30pm
Release #15

Line crews contended with gusty winds, difficult terrain and complex rebuilding work today as they focused on getting power back on to properties in Wanganui and South Taranaki.

Significant gains were made today, with supply restored to another 600 properties.

Extreme winds on Saturday ravaged the network, bringing down many poles and about 600 lines. Some transformer structures have been completely destroyed. The most significant damage to the network was in the remote areas of Wanganui, Patea, Waverley and the Waitotara Valley.

Powerco Network Operations Manager Phil Marsh said four helicopter companies had been helping string power lines back up as spans of lines had fallen across large valleys and rivers.

“The support we’re receiving from other lines companies, contractors and suppliers is helping us restore power at a quicker rate than expected. Suppliers have been making cabling and fittings especially for us so we have it ready to install.”

He said field staff were working in difficult conditions and the efforts were greatly appreciated by Powerco. “It’s a physical job, and they are working long hours to get the power back on to the 700 properties that still don’t have power.”

People without power should switch their mains switch off if they leave their property while waiting for supply to be restored.

Mr Marsh said Powerco’s main priority was safety and he reminded people there were still lines down and they must be treated as live at all times. “People should contact Powerco on 0800 272 727 to report any lines that are down and stay well away from them.”

He said that when “backbone” power lines had been repaired, some individual properties may only have partial power. Customers who do not have any power, or supply to only parts of their property should contact their electricity retailers. This is especially important if neighbours have their power back on.

Due to the scale of the damage, there are areas that would take at least another week to rebuild, he said.

He said the work could flow into next week so a small number of customers in these areas would be facing prolonged power cuts. “People should be prepared for extended periods without supply.”

Powerco is New Zealand’s second largest electricity and gas distribution utility with around 420,000 consumers connected to its networks. Powerco’s electricity networks are in Western Bay of Plenty, 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 Hawke’s Bay. Information about Powerco is available on its website www.powerco.co.nz

Customers should contact their electricity retailers to report faults and for estimated restoration times. People should ring Powerco on 0800 272 727 if they see dangerous sections of the network or lines that are down.


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