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Trees Contribute to Power Cuts During Storm


12 March 2012 – 12noon
Release #19

Trees Contribute to Power Cuts During Storm

The storm that lashed South Taranaki and Wanganui last weekend is a timely reminder for land owners to ensure their trees are kept trimmed well clear of overhead lines.

Around 30,000 customers lost power when the storm ravaged the electricity network last Saturday. Around 150 customers remain without power.

The extreme winds caused trees and branches to break and damage the lines. The worst affected areas were in remote parts of Wanganui, Patea, Waverley and the Waitotara Valley.

Powerco Network Operations Manager Phil Marsh said the extreme weather battered the network, causing widespread power cuts. A portion was due to overgrown trees making contact with lines.

“Tree owners are responsible for ensuring their trees are kept away from lines. Power supplies to rural communities are precious and any power cuts in remote locations can be tricky to repair.”

He said it was important customers engaged a professional tree trimming company to undertake the work. There were considerable safety issues around trimming trees near power lines that required appropriate skills, specialised safety equipment and procedures.

Powerco has extended its rural tree campaign to end on 31 March 2012. For each trimming a tree owner pays for, Powerco will donate $100 to a school of their choice. Tree owners will also go into the draw to win a 4WD quad bike or one of five chainsaws.

Mr Marsh reiterated that the storm damage to the electricity network was the worst Powerco had experienced and the huge amount of rebuilding required was taking time to complete in rural, hard to access areas. Around 600 overhead lines were brought down and a large number of poles damaged.

“People should stay away from fallen power lines or broken poles, and report damage to Powerco. Lines must be treated as live at all times.”

People should ring Powerco on 0800 272 727 if they see dangerous sections of the network or lines that are down.

Customers should contact their electricity retailer to report faults and for estimated restoration times.

People wishing to have their trees trimmed can visit the Powerco website www.powerco.co.nz for a list of approved tree trimming contractors and details about the rural tree campaign.

ENDS

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