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Restoration Efforts Continue Unabated

7 March 2012 – 11.30am
Release #13

Restoration Efforts Continue Unabated

Powerco is focused on rebuilding severely damaged parts of the network in remote areas of Whanganui Patea, Waverley and the Waitotara Valley today.

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

Lines crews from throughout New Zealand are helping to rebuild sections of Powerco’s network and restore power to customers as quickly as possible. About 1,500 customers, mainly in Whanganui, remain without power.

Powerco Network Operations Manager Phil Marsh said there were more than 200 staff involved in rebuilding the network and crews would be out in the field until all properties had power. “We’re committed to getting supply back on as soon as we can.”

He explained that when feeders had been repaired, some individual properties may only have partial power.

Powerco asks that customers who do not have full supply or power to only parts of their property to contact their electricity retailers. This is especially important when neighbouring properties have their power 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,” Mr Marsh said.

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

“Spans of lines across large valleys and rivers have been brought down by 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.

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.

ENDS

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