Unison provides reminder on how to reconnect flood damaged properties
With the hard mahi to clean up flood damaged properties by owners and volunteers ongoing, Unison wants to remind its customers who have had their properties damaged by Cyclone Gabrielle, the process on how to safely get their properties reconnected.
If a property has received a red sticker due to flooding damage, Unison cannot reconnect the property, and the owner should contact insurer in the first instance and notify their electricity retailer to ensure they know the property is without power.
If a property is flood damaged and has not been red stickered, or there is evidence of damage to the electrical installation at the property including the meter box, and the service line connecting the property to the network, an electrical inspection is required before the property can be reconnected to the network.
Unison’s Incident Controller and GM for Commercial Jason Larkin says, “Unison will arrange for these inspections to be carried out, with the help of our agreed contractors, at no cost to the property owner. We are asking our customers to please report the fault on our website at www.unison.co.nz/outages or call 0800 2 UNISON (0800 2 86476). We will then contact you to make arrangements for an electrical inspection to be carried out.”
Service lines, also known as service mains, are the lines owned by the customer, that connect dwellings, buildings or equipment (such as a pump) to the electricity network. These may also have been damaged and need to be repaired before electricity supply can be restored to customers.
Mr Larkin says, “While our focus is on repairing and rebuilding main distribution lines to restore as many customers as possible, we will make repairs to service lines at the same time if the job is relatively straightforward and can be done as part of our network repair work, which we will not charge for.”
“Where there is more severe damage to customer service lines, we will discuss the work to be done and any costs with the customer first. Where an agreed repair is needed, we will schedule a dedicated service team to do the repair as soon as we are able.”
“Every reconnection that we perform is another household or customer connected and one more step closer to achieving 100% restoration for Hawke’s Bay. I want to reiterate just how grateful and thankful we are to our communities for their continued patience and support. Our teams and crews remain focused and are working at pace to get the lights fully on,” says Mr Larkin
If a customer does not need power to their property for a period of time while they are cleaning up or repairing it, but will want to reconnect in the future, they should let their electricity retailer know that they want to temporarily disconnect from the network. When they are ready to reconnect, they should contact their retailer again. If, however, the property has been flood damaged it will need an electrical inspection.
If a customer does not want their property to be reconnected now or in the future, for example because it is red stickered, they can send a request to Unison using an online form Permanent Disconnect at www.unison.co.nz. If, however, they do want to reconnect their property to the network in the future, they will need to apply for a new connection.
As at 4pm Thursday, less than 630 customers remain without power across the region, of which less than 200 are occupied residential households.
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.
- If a property (not red stickered) is without power and has had flood damage or there is evidence of damage to the electrical installation at the property including the meter box, and the service line connecting the property to the network, an electrical inspection is required before the property can be reconnected to the network. Unison (with the help of agreed contractors) is arranging for these inspections to be carried out at no cost to the property owner. Please report the fault on our website at www.unison.co.nz/outages or call 0800 2 UNISON (0800 2 86476). We will then contact you to make arrangements for an electrical inspection to be carried out.
- Before a property can be reconnected, Unison requires an electrical safety certificate be prepared by the inspector, which confirms the customer’s installation to be electrically safe to liven.
- Reconnecting service lines or service mains. These are the lines that connect dwellings, building or equipment (such as a pump) owned by the customer, to the electricity network. These need to be repaired before electricity supply can be restored to customers. While our focus is on repairing and rebuilding main distribution lines to restore as many customers as possible, we will make repairs to service lines at the same time if the job is relatively straightforward and can be done as part of our network repair work. Where there is more severe damage to customer service lines, options will be discussed with customers. Where an agreed repair is needed, we will schedule a dedicated service team to do the repair as soon as we are able. Unison does not charge for repairs that are simple and can be done immediately. However, when repairs are not straightforward and require design and construction, we will discuss the work to be done and any costs with the customer first.
- 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 (e.g. diggers tip trucks, forklifts, etc) as part of the clean-up, 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)
- 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).