Storm inflicts unprecedented damage to power network

Last night’s storm has caused significant and widespread damage to the Counties Power network.  At its peak, 14,600 properties were without power as winds in excess of 200km per hour were recorded in the area. There are currently 3,714 properties still without power, with some not expected to be restored for 24 – 48 hours due to the magnitude of faults on the network.

Eight power poles fell during the storm, four in Waiuku and two each in Whangarata and Waiau Pa.  More than 50 lines fell, with this number expected to rise as the day progresses and more damaged service lines are reported.  Flying debris from trees and vegetation has caused the most damage to lines.

Counties Power GM Field Operations Dale Carline said the storm has caused severe damage to the network, with the impact far greater than that of the January 5 storm event.

“While the West Coast of our region experienced huge damage to the network, the impact was felt all across the region.  Lines down have occurred from the Manukau Heads through to Glen Murray and over to Kaiaua.  Our crews were working through the night with the priority being safety – keeping our community and team safe, making the network stable and resolving faults where possible.  Safety is still our focus as more reports of lines down come in this morning.  Please stay clear of lines and report immediately.”

“It’s important our community understands that the damage our network has sustained is unprecedented. We will have some properties without power for 24 – 48 hours.  Please plan ahead and make other arrangements if necessary.  Our crews are working hard to restore power as quickly and as safely as possible and I thank them for their hard work in severe conditions last night.  We’re investigating bringing in additional resources to assist with network repair to get the power flowing as soon as possible. We appreciate this is difficult for our customers and thank them for their patience.”

“We’re extremely grateful to our neighbouring power lines company to the south, Wel Networks, who have sent us additional vegetation, traffic management and line crews.  This shows how we can work collaboratively as an industry and assist in times of need.”

Please treat all lines as live at all times and call Counties Power immediately on 0800 100 202 to report any lines down or debris on lines. Do not attempt to remove branches or debris from lines or try to move them.

Each downed or damaged line can take around 4 – 6 hours to make safe, showing the huge amount of time and resourcing required.  In any storm event, the number one priority is safety – ensuring downed lines and unsafe equipment is made safe and secure for the public. Network stability and large-scale faults are the next priority for crews, then individual property faults.

This is a timely reminder to the public to please maintain their trees and vegetation.  Most of the damage to the network during this storm was caused by trees hitting lines and flying debris such as branches.  It is the property owners’ responsibility to ensure trees are kept away from lines and trees are maintained or felled if they are unstable.

More information can be found on vegetation responsibility and regulations, which can result in fines in excess of $10,000, at www.countiespower.com/trees.

For anyone who still has no power due to a fault on their private service line, once the line has been made safe by Counties Power, they can contact an electrician for a repair.

Counties Power customers can stay up to date during large scale events on Facebook -www.facebook.com/countiespower or the website –  www.countiespower.com/outages.

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