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Minimising outages in storms

tree pulling down power lines

Storms and high winds can wreak havoc on our network, but thanks to a robust action plan we’re able to keep the lights on for our customers, as safely and quickly as we can.

An example of this response took place in mid-February 2021, when wild weather and severe gales across the North Island caused trees and branches to rip through our lines. This caused rolling outages for over a week, with Taranaki taking the brunt of it.

Dave Evans, Powerco’s Emergency Management Coordinator, says severe weather events like that require our teams to move fast.

“We put a plan in place to plan and coordinate the response as soon as we see a weather warning from MetService. We share intel and coordinate with a range of teams and bring in additional resourcing if needed, just to make sure we have enough staff on deck to assist and get power restored to customers as quickly and safely as possible.”

It also requires our fault crews to work in trying conditions.

“Our linesmen and electricians were out in the weather responding to faults, but in some cases it was too dangerous for them to be up power poles. During one evening with long, sustained periods of wind gusts up to 120km/hr, we made the decision to put all regions in an emergency ‘triage’ mode to isolate, make safe and minimise until first light,” says Dave.

“It was an excellent effort during difficult conditions by our Downer field teams, SMC & NOC (Network and Operations Centre) all working well together – and under COVID level 2 restrictions too.”

Our response to these kinds of unplanned outages dovetails into our planned works to upgrade or replace at-risk assets, which together reduce the length of outages and the number of customers impacted.

The fault graphs below show a noticeable spike starting on Monday 15 February – particularly in the Taranaki region – with good recoveries on 17 February.