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'Utter devastation' of forestry areas hampers power companies

Author
Dan Hutchinson,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 Feb 2023, 2:06PM

'Utter devastation' of forestry areas hampers power companies

Author
Dan Hutchinson,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 Feb 2023, 2:06PM

Southern areas of the Taupō District, including Tūrangi and Kuratau, could be without power for days, if not weeks, with damaged lines in areas that are too dangerous to work in.

The Lines Company (TLC) general manager service delivery Jared Murrell has advised customers in Tūrangi, Motuoapa, Tauranga-Taupo, Whareroa, Tokaanu, Mokai, Tirohanga, and Kuratau to “prepare to be without power for an extended length of time”. That could be days or weeks in some places.

He said people in affected areas should consider relocating if they can for the next few days.

An aerial inspection of the lines network on Tuesday revealed “severe and critical damage to the network caused by the utter devastation of forestry in the area”.

A pine plantation behind Motuoapa is flattened by high winds after Cyclone Gabrielle wreaked havoc on the Taupō District. Photo / The Lines Company

A pine plantation behind Motuoapa is flattened by high winds after Cyclone Gabrielle wreaked havoc on the Taupō District. Photo / The Lines Company

“Due to the impact of high winds, the forestry sites are now extremely dangerous to access and restoring our electricity infrastructure will require a significant and highly coordinated effort from our crews, contractors, forestry workers and other agencies.”

Murrell said 1200 TLC customers were still without power on Wednesday.

Thousands of trees have been flattened by Cyclone Gabrielle around the Taupō District. Photo / The Lines Company

Thousands of trees have been flattened by Cyclone Gabrielle around the Taupō District. Photo / The Lines Company

“There is a significant clean up project required to make access to the forestry areas for our lines crews and contractors safe.

“Helicopters are in the air in parts of Taupō now removing trees and debris from lines and poles. We expect this will take a number of days.”

Repairs include rebuilding lines, the replacement of transformers and other equipment.

Generators were brought in on Tuesday night to supply power in the area north of Tūrangi and Tokaanu village.

TLC is prioritising essential services such as water, wastewater, communications, medical centres, food and fuel stations, and after that restoring the larger groups of customers affected.

“Unfortunately, we’re unable to provide accurate restoration timelines until we’ve finished assessing the damage to the network.”

Murrell said they were hoping to restore pwoer to the Motuoapa area on Wednesday afternoon, either permanently or via a generator.

“Due to extensive forestry debris in the area, it is essential we conduct safety checks before we can complete either option.

“We’re attempting to source more generators from hireage companies and other utility companies. However, given the state of the electricity infrastructure across the North Island, generators are in significant demand.

“Generators are not always the answer. Damage to lines may prevent generators from being able to supply power to every affected property in the area. We’re working through these considerations now.”

 

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