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Electricity Companies Rally to Help Restoration Efforts

6 March 2012 – 4.30pm
Release #12

Electricity Companies Rally to Help Restoration Efforts

Powerco has been flooded with offers of assistance from other electricity businesses and contractors to help get power back on to people in Whanganui and South Taranaki.

Lines crews from throughout New Zealand have been arriving to assist rebuild sections of Powerco’s network, and more are on their way.

Extreme winds on Saturday smashed the network, bringing down many poles and about 600 lines.

Powerco Network Operations Manager Phil Marsh said the additional resources were greatly appreciated and would be an immense help in reducing restoration times.

“The damage to the network is like nothing we’ve seen before so to have a full contingent of workers in the field makes a big difference.

“We have more than 200 staff involved in rebuilding our network and crews will be out in the field until all properties have power. We’re committed to getting supply back on as soon as we can.”

Today, power was restored to the Patea central business district and to Whenakura School.

Mr Marsh said at 4pm, there were around 120 individual properties on the outskirts of Patea township still without power, but crews are working to get the remaining customers back on the grid as soon as possible.

“Patea residents should contact their retailers and let them know if they are still waiting for the electricity to come back on. While there are a number of crews working to get all residents back on supply, it may be helpful if we can be pointed to individual properties.”
About 1,500 customers, mainly in South Taranaki, remain without power.

Due to the scale of the damage, there are areas that will take at least another week to rebuild. Major construction projects are needed in remote areas of Patea, Waverley and the Waitotara Valley.

“Spans of lines across large valleys and rivers have been brought down in the storm,” Mr Marsh said. “Overgrown trees have fallen in their path and have to be cleared before sections of the network can be rebuilt.”

He said the work could flow into next week so a small number of customers in these areas would be facing prolonged power cuts. “We’re looking at what possible options there are for generators but people should be prepared for extended periods without supply.”

Powerco’s main priority is safety and some lines have been disconnected to ensure the network is safe while work is carried out. The high number of damaged lines mean there are still many that remain down and they must be treated as live at all times.

Mr Marsh said, “Members of the public should contact Powerco on our 0800 number to report any lines that are down.”

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.

ENDS

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