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Power restoration plans take shape for Napier and Hastings

Breakthrough plans to progressively reconnect urban suburbs of Napier and parts of Hastings from Saturday are coming to fruition following intense collaborative efforts between Unison Networks and Transpower NZ.  

Cyclone Gabrielle hit Hawke’s Bay late on Monday night, causing widespread damage to Unison’s local power network, followed by severe flood damage to Transpower’s Redclyffe Substation, which connects Napier and parts of Hastings to the national power grid.

Today there are still 37,000 homes without power in Hawke’s Bay - 31,700 homes in Napier and 5,300 homes in Hastings.

Unison has been working with Transpower to put in place an emergency solution to bypass the damaged Redclyffe substation and reliven Transpower’s Whakatu substation. This will enable power to be supplied to parts of Napier City and suburbs. 

Unison’s Relationship Manager, Danny Gough says: “We expect to begin progressively restoring parts of Napier from Saturday as well as remaining parts of Hastings without power around Whakatu, Clive and Te Awanga.”

“To do this we have to repair critical lines between Whakatu and Napier that have been damaged at the river crossing at Awatoto. Our crews are currently working hard on this very challenging repair.”

“We’re also looking at alternative short-term solutions to reconnect more customers while repairs take place. This includes bringing in generators where possible - last night some critical sites in central Napier, such as supermarkets and fuel stations, were powered this way. More generators have arrived and are being transported to key Unison sites around Napier to provide power more quickly.”

Some important key messages for the community are as follows:

  • Conserve Power: Due to a limited supply of power coming in to the region as this time, we ask the public to please conserve power where possible to support restoration efforts.
    • Please respect and stay clear of Unison crews as they work hard to repair sections of the power network: Our crews, contractors and those of Transpower are working long hours in challenging and dangerous conditions to restore power as quickly as possible. Many of them have also been impacted personally by Cyclone Gabrielle at home. Please keep your distance and respect our crews as they focus on completing repairs on the network.  
    • Given widespread impact and regional loss of supply from Transpower, we are advising customers to disregard estimated restoration times for outages on our website, as these are based on normal working conditions.
    • For our business community: We understand the concerns of our business community and local industries in relation to power supply. Given the limited supply available form Transpower into the region and the unprecedented situation facing our communities we are working closely with Transpower and Civil Defence to allocate the available supply to restore power to critical community infrastructure and households.  At this difficult time we must prioritise lives ahead of livelihoods. As more supply is made available from Transpower we will continue this restoration process which will begin to include some commercial and industrial areas. We thank all our customers for their understanding and patience, and the support we continue to receive.
    • During power outages, Unison regularly advises the following safety precautions:
      • Check for fallen or damaged electricity lines and treat lines as live at all times. Never touch wires or lines lying on the ground, hanging from poles, or objects such as tree branches that may be touching them. Fallen lines or wires may still be carrying an electrical current and could shock, injure or even kill if touched. Unison is urging anyone who sees a power line down to report these to www.unison.co.nz/outages
      • Turn off the power at the main switch if you suspect any electrical damage in your home. If the power goes out, turn off all electrical appliances to prevent possible damage by a power surge when the electricity supply is restored.
      • When the electricity network is damaged, it might take some time to get reconnected, so make sure you have a battery-operated radio, a torch, spare batteries, and a full gas bottle for your BBQ as part of your emergency kit.
      • Medically dependant customers are advised to prepare for the likelihood of no power and make alternative arrangements in advance.

To report an outage visit www.unison.co.nz/outages in the first instance as it is experiencing high call volumes through its call centre, which can still be used for those who do not have access to the internet - 0800 2 UNISON (0800 286 476).

“We recognise how difficult this week has been for everyone. It is a challenging situation, and we understand customers without power are wanting to know what their situation is and when they can expect power to return. As progress on our network repairs and access to remote areas become clearer, we will provide more specific information around expected time of restoration for different areas.”

“Our crews, contractors and those of Transpower are working long hours to restore power as quickly as possible, with many of them also affected by flooding. Please stay clear and give them space so they can get on with their jobs quickly and safely.”

“Almost all of Rotorua and Taupo have now had their power restored remaining, so I want to thank our crews who have done an amazing job in those areas while working in tough conditions.” says Mr Gough

Unison has restored power to 39,500 customers since Cyclone Gabrielle hit on Monday night, with power being restored to almost all customers in Taupo and Rotorua. 

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