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Power cut offers adaptability test

Monique Kloeg still running her cafe during the power cut. PHOTOS/KAREN COLTMAN


More than 90,000 people across the wider Wellington region were without power on Thursday morning after an incident at Hayward Power Station in Lower Hutt.

Emergency services were called to the power station shortly before 8.20am following reports of an explosion in the switchyard, causing Wellington, the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa to lose power.

A spokesperson for Transpower confirmed the power outage was caused during routine maintenance and no one was injured.

“During this morning’s switching [making the site safe] as part of routine maintenance, incorrect earthing was applied.

“This resulted in an arc of electricity similar to a flash of lightning – and the loud bang and smoke seen.”

Protection systems cut the power supply and there was no fire or explosion of equipment, they said.

Power was restored fully by about 10.30am but caused major disruptions to businesses across the region, as many prepared for a much longer power cut.

The power outage caused disruptions and delays to the Hutt, Melling and Wairarapa train services, with trains out of Wellington temporarily suspended.

Morning and midday trains between Wairarapa and the capital were replaced by buses.

While some businesses in Wairarapa closed temporarily, at Masterton’s Ten O’clock Bakery and Cafe manager, Monique Kloeg was going with the flow as she gave away pies [she couldn’t reheat] and instant coffee.

Kloeg had about 25 customers sitting in comfort, in the dark chatting while waiting for the power to come on.

Dozens more queued for coffee at the carts by Hadlow Preparatory School and ANZ which were running as usual with power generators.

Rose Jenkins decided to get a coffee and take her 11-month-old daughter, Leyna Downer out while power was off.

New mum Rose Jenkins’ usual routine with her baby Leyna was upset so she got out the pushchair and came into town.

She said her baby was not settled and she wanted a coffee so they were pleased to be out and about to fill the time while the power was off.

For others the power outage was a good test of continuity planning.

A Wairarapa Hospital spokesperson confirmed it did not lose power, operating on a generator system.

It even got a helping hand from staff at Masterton Medical who liaised closely with ED staff about managing patients with urgent needs and providing additional nursing support.

“[Thursday] morning’s outage demonstrates the success of business continuity planning with Wairarapa practice teams and hospital services working together seamlessly to manage people’s well-being in unexpected circumstances,” Tu Ora Compass Health’s general manager of practice services and population health Justine Thorpe said.

Pandemic planning discussions at Carterton District Council continued when the back-up power kicked into gear.

Masterton District Council also stayed open at its Waiata House headquarters using its own generator.

In South Wairarapa, the power cut left water supplies in Featherston and Greytown low.

Residents were advised to cut back on water usage until further notice.

Some schools were thought to have made the decision to close for the day when the power cut struck.

  • Additional reporting from Marcus Anselm, LDR

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