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Who has the power?

GRAPHIC/TIMES-AGE

Wairarapa’s residents often don’t, with more than 200 power cuts in six months

The lights have unexpectedly gone out in Wairarapa more than 200 times this year, numbers provided by Powerco show.

Powerco said that since April 1, there had been 213 outages across the region. Of those, 12 outages were considered large-scale and affected more than 1000 customers in Wairarapa.

It said two of the 12 outages were related to Transpower outages.

Powerco said the outages had been caused by a range of factors, including animal interference from birds and possums, lightning strikes and severe weather conditions, vehicles colliding with power poles, trees and other debris interfering with lines, and equipment failures.

Powerco’s head of network operations Caz Haydon said his team worked closely with field crews to respond to outages as quickly as possible.

“Of course, we know that unexpected power outages are frustrating. Our field crews respond to outages 365 days a year, and we reconnect customers as quickly and as safely as we can.

“Along with that, our team is continually looking at ways to reduce the occurrence of unplanned outages, which includes our ongoing maintenance, renewal and vegetation management programmes to address the core cause of outages where possible.”

Powerco reported 16 unplanned large-scale power outages in Wairarapa from January to October.

However, it did not provide a total number of outages.

Tinui resident Caryl Forrest said any outages that were linked to Otahome, Castlepoint, Riversdale, Mataikona, Blairlogie, or Tinui itself would affect residents in the area.

She said the area had some large cuts in February, leaving the Castlepoint community without power for several days.

Powerco said on February 15 that power had been cut to 316 customers in Castlepoint and surrounding areas.

Powerco network operations manager Scott Horniblow said the power supply to eastern Wairarapa, including Castlepoint and surrounding areas, was cut after forestry trees slipped down a hillside, taking out power lines and other infrastructure during the storm.

“There was no access for our crews to make repairs because it sits along a ridgeline on a hill. There have been and continue to be multiple road closures in the area with trees across roads.”

Forrest said power had been relatively reliable after the February blackout, aside from one unexpected power cut last week.

Wairarapa narrowly avoided widespread power cuts on October 7, just as Masterton was suffering through a chilling low of zero degrees Celsius.

Transpower issued a grid emergency notice on the morning of October 7 for the North Island, including Wairarapa, warning of possible disconnections across the island.

It said the warning was because of a fault on one of the two Cook Strait cables, which brought electricity up from the South Island.

Transpower first issued a warning notice at 5.37am. It said there was a risk of insufficient generation and reserves to meet North Island demand. A second notice was issued at 7.15am, warning there was still a risk of insufficient generation to meet demand in the North Island.

Transpower said some power was still flowing across the cable, but a second fault could suddenly stop the flow of electricity.

It said it worked with lines companies to manage controllable loads such as hot water systems. The notice period ended by 8am.

October 7’s grid emergency notice was the second of the year, with Wairarapa and the rest of New Zealand narrowly missing power cuts on June 23.

Powerco said there were 10 planned outages from yesterday to December in Masterton for maintenance, including tree trimming, replacing poles, and replacing transformers. It listed an additional six outages planned for Carterton, 19 in Featherson, and 30 in Martinborough.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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