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Unison continues reconnection progress over the weekend

Unison has made further progress over the weekend, with under 900 customers now remaining without power across the region, of which around 500 are residential connections.

Many of these remaining properties are flood damaged, with almost 100 red stickered and a further 20 or so yellow stickered. This means that under 200 occupied households remain without power.

Unison’s Incident Controller and GM for Commercial Jason Larkin says, “The welfare of these remaining customers who are still without power is paramount. Our customer care team have been contacting customers directly to check on their wellbeing and update them on our plans and the progress being made.”

“To assist those affected by the floods, Unison is arranging for electrical safety inspections of flood damaged properties so they can be reconnected to the network to help occupants and owners get on with the clean up, repair and rebuild.”

“We continue to work as hard as possible to restore power to all remaining customers without power, with our crews working around the clock and through the weekend. We are particularly pleased to have restored power to parts of the heavily hit Rissington area in Soldie Settlement Road.”

Unison is using generation in areas of the network that are isolated by flood damage, most recently supplying remote parts of State Highway five with a generator that supply Te Pohue, Te Haroto and Tarawera.

Unison has also been able restore power to residential customers in Awatoto, since being able to gain access to this area late last week, after it had been cordoned off due to contamination. In the week ahead, the aim is to supply limited power to other commercial and industrial customers in Awatoto.

Mr Larkin says, “Great progress has been made in Awatoto over the last few days, however, many customers will not be able to get fully up and running again until we have repaired our flood damaged Awatoto substation, which we have only just been able to access.”

“We have a clear plan in place and understand what is required to fix the substation, but we are realistic that this work could take at least a month to complete. We hope to be able to provide a clearer timeline of the work that needs to be carried out next week.”

“I want to assure these customers that Unison is working tirelessly, and closely with other agencies, to restore power to the area as soon as safely possible.”

Overnight, Unison worked alongside Transpower to return to service part of the flood damaged Redclyffe substation, to help improve the security of the electricity supply to Hawke’s Bay. This work included restoring the interconnector transformer and its control equipment at the Redclyffe substation, which allows connection of the regional 110,000 volt transmission network to the 220,000 national grid, increasing resilience, security of supply, and helping to meet peak demand.

“This was a major step forward in restoring a resilient transmission supply to the region, although we are still some way off having supply fully restored to the state it was prior to Cyclone Gabrielle. “I want to reiterate how grateful and thankful we are to our customers for their continued patience and support,” say Mr Larkin.

Following completion of this weekend’s work, Unison will no longer be asking customers to conserve power. However, further short outages can still be expected as Unison works to reconfigure the network from time to time, to manage supply and demand until transmission supply is fully restored.

Some important key messages for the community are as follows:

  • For customers still without power who reside in an area that is now reconnected to Unison’s network (areas coloured green on Unison’s online restoration map), please check if there are lights on in your meter box.  If not, then you do not have power to your property. Please log a fault at www.unison.co.nz/outages. This will ensure Unison is aware of the issue and can make arrangements to assess and, where possible, restore power. We encourage customers to check in on any neighbours, whānau or friends who may still be without power and pass on this message.
  • As restoration is progressed, please assume all lines and assets are live. Due to flooding, ground contours have changed in many areas. Unison urges all contractors, farmers, orchardists, anyone working around electricity lines or using plant and machinery (eg, diggers tip trucks, forklifts, etc) as part of the cleanup, to be aware and stay safe around electricity. Treat all lines as live, know what’s below, look up and live, and contact Unison for cable location services and safety permits.
  • Occasional outages to be expected over the coming weeks:

    Customers may experience occasional outages over the next few weeks. These could be as short as 5-10 minutes but may last longer and may be more frequent at peak times. We urge customers to be prepared – guidance on preparation for outages can be found on Unison’s website at: Electricity outages - be prepared (unison.co.nz)

  • Conserve power where possible:

    We ask customers with power, to please conserve it while Hawke’s Bay is on limited supply. Switch off lights when they’re not in use, air dry laundry, if possible, unplug devices if they’re not charging, turn appliances off at the wall when you’re not using them, use a microwave or air-fryer to heat food instead of the oven, and only run the washing machine with a full load.

  • Hot water:
    All customers who reside in an area that is now reconnected to Unison’s network (areas coloured green on Unison’s online restoration map) should have their hot water back on. If a customer in these areas has no hot water, they should log a fault at www.unison.co.nz/outages. Customers in generated areas (areas coloured orange on Unison’s online restoration map) may have no or limited hot water, and we ask that they please bear with us while we work to get them fully reconnected.

  • Please respect and stay clear of Unison crews as they work

    Unison crews are working 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 and safely as possible. Many of them have also been impacted personally by Cyclone Gabrielle. Please keep your distance, and respect crews as they focus on completing repairs. 

  • 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.
    • Outages should be reported at www.unison.co.nz/outages in the first instance, as we are experiencing high call volumes through our call centre, which can still be used for those who do not have access to the internet - 0800 2 UNISON (0800 2 86476).
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