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Unison restores power to Tutira this weekend

Unison has restored power to its Tutira substation and is progressively reconnecting power to surrounding areas today and tomorrow. The restoration follows the completion of complex repairs to its cyclone damaged substation and the main line connecting Tutira with Unison’s main network. Communities in parts of Waipatiki and Apley Road will also have their power restored this weekend.

Access to Tutira has been a significant challenge for crews due to the impact of repeated rain continuing to hamper access by road. Unison completed its initial assessment of the site by air to understand the extent of the damage, repair plans were then put in place and completed as road access allowed.  Cyclone Gabrielle caused extensive damage to the electronic equipment within the Tutira substation’s from contaminated silt and floodwaters, requiring a complete replacement. The substation’s new electronic equipment then went through rigorous testing and recommissioning before it was safe to reliven the site. 

Unison’s Incident Controller and GM for Commercial Jason Larkin says, “We understand how hard it has been for the Tutira community to be cut off and without power for more than two weeks. Our teams have been working around the clock on emergency repairs to restore power to this rural community. We have had to think outside the square to find solutions, exploring all options and alternatives to get this job done. 

“Repairing and reconnecting our Tutira substation was a unique and significant challenge given its remote location, limited access to the site by road, communication infrastructure limitations and extensive damage to both the substation and the main line connecting into our core network.

“This is a significant milestone in our restoration efforts as our teams can now progressively restore main supply to these surrounding areas this weekend.

“We are acutely aware of the impact that the loss of electricity has on all our communities and the livelihoods of businesses. We are throwing all our resources at this hugely complex and challenging response.”

“I want to reiterate just how grateful and thankful we are to our communities for their continued patience and support while our teams work around the clock on our response. While we are making good progress, we know the job’s not yet done. Our teams and crews remain focused and are working at pace to get the lights fully on.”

Unison’s rural restoration plans are fully underway. Teams are meeting with rural communities to develop restoration plans that meet community need, including using generation where possible.

Unison is providing generation to more than 1000 customers to meet the essential welfare needs of isolated households who are unable to be reconnected to the network due to extensive cyclone damage.

As at midday Saturday, 4 March, 1536 customers remain without power in Hawke’s Bay. In Hastings, 1,379 customers remain without power, mostly in rural areas. In Napier, around 157 customers remain without power.

Restoration plans and details of rural community meetings can be found at www.unison.co.nz

Some important key messages for the community are as follows:

  • For customers still without power and residing in areas that are now reconnected to Unison’s network, (indicated as green on Unison’s online restoration map), 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.
  • 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 is an issue for some customers connected to the network and Unison is working to resolve this.
  • We are aware some customers are having issues with hot water as we’re repairing and reconfiguring our network across Hawke’s Bay. Electricity distribution businesses, including Unison, use a tool called ‘ripple control’ to turn off households’ electric hot water systems at times of peak demand. We are using ripple control to preserve power supply while work to reinstate Transpower’s supply to the region continues, and we also have one ripple control plant out of service due to the damage at Transpower’s Redclyffe substation. Our immediate focus is to restore power to customers without it, after which we will turn our focus to streamlining hot water across the network. Please be aware that electricians are not permitted to bypass ripple relays on switchboards unless directly requested by retailers.

     

    • For those in Hastings: if you have power, you should have hot water. If this is not the case, please report this at www.unison.co.nz/outages. It may take several weeks to resolve your issue as Unison focuses efforts on restoring power to as many customers as quickly as possible. For customers who wish to resolve their issues sooner, you may wish to speak to an electrician in the first instance, to check your property’s internal switchboards as it’s possible your hot water circuit breakers or fuses have tripped.
    • For those in Napier: We are working very hard and trying various ways to send a ripple control signal through to Napier, but it is very likely that there is not enough strength in this signal to reach all areas. Therefore, we’re asking customers without hot water in Napier to please bear with us. Our immediate focus is to restore power to customers without it, after which we will turn our focus to streamlining hot water across the network.

     

  • 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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