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Business owners powerless

More than 50 Masterton businesses will be left in the dark and out of pocket on one of their busiest days in the lead-up to Christmas.
Power company Powerco has advised that 52 mostly commercial properties on Park Ave and Dixon, Queen and Cricket streets would be without power for six hours next Tuesday.
It said yesterday that it had received at least five complaints regarding the total shutdown from 9.45am-4.15pm.
Business operators estimated the business day closure would cost them tens of thousands of dollars.
Autopaint owner Reece Pope said he would be forced to pay staff to take the day off.
“I simply cannot run without power. Powerco suggested getting a generator, but my work requires a three-phase generator. You can’t get a generator that big in Wairarapa.
“It’s never ideal having the power cut off at home, but when it’s commercial, it’s different. I have staff. It doesn’t just affect me.”
Pope said he had complained multiple times to Powerco and his electricity provider about the upcoming outage, but had made no progress.
“They said they’ve reviewed the decision, but I haven’t seen someone from Powerco actually come and check the place out.”
He estimated his shop would lose between $6000 and $10,000 on the day of the outage.
Challenge Parkview Motors owner Jess Mason said the timing for the outage would be costly.
“We understand they have a job to do. If I were to get a generator, it would cost $10,000, plus wages and running costs. There isn’t one big enough in Wairarapa to do both sides of the business [fuel station and workshop].
“We’ve suggested making it later in the day. So far, we haven’t heard back, so we’re deciding what to do if the outage goes ahead. We’re stuck in limbo.”
She said it was unfair to disrupt many businesses. The 11 staff at Parkview were just the tip of the iceberg.
“That’s just one business. We understand Powerco don’t want to work after hours, but in the grand scheme of things, it makes more sense to do that, than make 50 businesses shut for the day.”
Yardlands co-owner Paul Bodle said he could not operate without power.
“We need it for the fridge we store the plants in. Having the power off for the day will be a security risk.
“Who else can essentially shut off a whole load of businesses like this? It’s incredibly entitled. Even road workers communicate with us to avoid disruption.”
Powerco head of customer delivery Mark Hermann said every effort was made to keep customers informed about planned outages.
“We appreciate there is never a time that suits all customers. We work with retailers to notify customers about planned outages in advance so they can plan for the interruption and make arrangements where needed.”
Powerco said the outage was to do maintenance on high-voltage electrical equipment.
“During the outage, Powerco’s contractors Electrix will carry out planned maintenance on high voltage switchgear equipment. The work is carried out during the day to allow the crew to work safely.
“The work will help ensure that Masterton’s power supply is safe and reliable, reducing the risk of unplanned outages for customers.”
Powerco said providing generators was untenable because planned outages affected 150,000 homes and businesses every year.

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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