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Getting Power Back On If Storms Cause Outages

Winter storms sometimes cause power outages as power lines get damaged by wind and trees.

As storm season approaches, the Electricity Networks Association (ENA), which represents New Zealand’s 29 local lines networks, is advising that electricity restoration crews’ response to outages during a storm may be different under the COVID-19 lockdown.

Many lines companies are reconfiguring how their maintenance teams work, ENA’s chief executive Graeme Peters, says.

“What this means for electricity consumers is that it may take longer to get power back when there are outages.

“We’re very aware that New Zealanders are both living and working from home and any outage will add to the stress of the COVID-19 lockdown.”

But the safety of the restoration crews and the public is always a top priority, he says.

With COVID-19 there are additional measures in place necessary to keep everyone safe. For example, many field crews across the country are now working in smaller teams.

This can mean limiting crews to two person per truck to allow for separation, which often then requires two trucks in the field instead of one.

With the extra precautions being taken with field crews during the lockdown, productivity may be lower in some circumstances “because we are trying to keep the crews separate”, Graeme Peters says.

“The public can be assured that as always, restoration teams will be working extremely hard to safely restore any outages as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, people can prepare for storms to reduce the risk of damage and exercise caution to help ensure their safety in the event of a storm.

The recommended steps include:

  • Prepare as normal when storms approach – tying down loose objects and ensuring they have drinking water and other supplies stored
  • Taking particular note of items that may get caught in gale-force winds
  • Ensuring to always stay away from fallen lines
  • Not approaching restoration teams both for their own safety and that of the crews.

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