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Power to the people

The communities at Castlepoint and Riversdale beaches will soon be backed up by emergency generators that will kick in during unexpected power outages.

Powerco general manager of electricity Karen Frew told the Times-Age the generators are now on site and are awaiting commissioning.

“There’s a bit of work still needed to set them up and make them fully operational so that they can be connected to the towns’ power supplies,” she said.

The generators are expected to be fully functional at some point in February, but “in the meantime, if there is a significant event such as a cyclone that cuts power for a sustained period of time to the communities, Powerco will send crews to the sites to get the generators operating”, Frew said.

The Castlepoint and Riversdale locations were chosen for backup generators as they are only supplied by single feeders, which means they cannot re-route power from another feeder if there’s an outage.

The installations were also prompted because of long service times in the areas in the event of outages.

“The isolated nature and difficult forestry block terrain has meant, at times, lengthy delays in supply restoration,” Frew said.

“This generation will enable lifeline supply for the likes of wifi, phone charging, fridges, freezers, and food preparation to continue for these communities when they need it most.

“The emergency backup power supplies have the capacity to service about 400 homes and businesses in Riversdale Beach and another 200 in Castlepoint,” Frew said, and can operate for up to roughly eight hours, depending on usage.

Frew wants people to remember to conserve energy if and when the generators need to be used.

“People need to conserve power so the generators don’t become overloaded and can continue to power essential equipment,” she said

“This means only using power when you need it. For example, keep your fridge and freezer operating, but reduce the use of the washing machine or dishwasher by washing dishes by hand.”

Frew also hopes that when the equipment is used, locals will send feedback to Powerco about how they felt the generators performed.

The Castlepoint generator has been installed at the local wastewater treatment site, while the Riversdale Beach generator is on private farmland about 3km out of the beach settlement on Homewood Rd.

In the event of a power cut, the generators will take a few minutes to fire up before electricity is restored, at which point there will be a 10-second power cut to allow the generators to turn off and the main power to kick back in. FREDDIE WILKIE

Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

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