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Unison’s rural restoration plans underway in Hawke’s Bay

Efforts to restore power to rural Hawke’s Bay communities are fully underway following the restoration of significant parts of urban Napier and Hastings.

As of today, there are nearly 3,000 consumers remaining without power in the region – most  – nearly 95% of which reside in the outlying rural areas of Hawke’s Bay.

Unison’s overhead rural network has been severely damaged by Cyclone Gabrielle. An aerial assessment of the network has identified key sites for repair, however permanent repairs to this network are hampered by access issues and could take weeks to complete. In the interim Unison is working with rural communities to understand their needs and explore alternative ways to restore power.

A power restoration map has been developed to capture Unison’s plans to restore power to its rural communities and is available at www.unison.co.nz/outages

Yesterday Unison visited the Puketapu community to supply power using generation, while Whirinaki residents are set to get connected with generation today.  In semi-rural Pakowhai and Meeanee, which were heavily impacted by flooding, crews continue to face access issues and it maybe several weeks before these areas can be assessed and repaired.

Today Unison is visiting rural communities in Patoka, Rissington, Puketitiri, Glengarry, and Dartmoor today, to understand their needs and involve them in the planning and delivery of the recovery and restoration of supply.

Unison’s Incident Controller, Jason Larkin says, “We will be throwing all our resources at this mammoth repair and using all options available to restore power as quickly as possible, such as connecting generators at our rural substations, and redeploying crews from our Unison depots in other regions to help.  Crews provided by lines companies and contractors are also bolstering our efforts.” 

“We’re acutely aware of the impact the loss of electricity has on all our communities and the livelihoods of businesses. We’re committed to working with our customers, and particularly our more rural and vulnerable communities, by restoring power or providing alternative solutions as soon as we can.”

“We remain thankful to our customers for their continued patience and support as our teams and crews work long hours to restore power to customers as quickly as possible.” says Mr Larkin.

Almost all of urban Napier has now been reconnected, including Taradale and parts of Bay View, Te Awa and Awatoto. Last night Unison connected a second line into Transpower’s Redclyffe substation, increasing supply for Napier. Unison crews are working through remaining pockets of unconnected areas to repair faults and restore supply street-by-street.

Unison’s Cyclone Gabrielle Hawke’s Bay restoration map gives an up-to-date picture of where power has now been restored and areas planned to restore next, which can be viewed on Unison’s website and Facebook page.

Some important key messages for the community are as follows:

  • Hotwater: We are aware some customers are having issues with hot water as we’re repairing, and reconfiguring our network across Hawke’s Bay.
    • 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, we advise them to speak to an electrician in the first instance and apologise for this inconvenience.
    • For those in Napier: Due to the damage at Transpower’s Redclyffe substation, there is a ripple control plant that is out of service. We are working very hard and trying various ways to send a 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.
  • Brief outages: As we continue to work hard to restore power to as many customers in Napier on what is currently a limited supply, customers may experience brief outages while we reconfigure our Hastings and Napier network. These could be as short as 5-10 minutes but in some cases may last longer and may be more frequent at peak times.
  • Conserve Power: Due to a limited supply of power coming into the region at 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 from, and respect our crews as they focus on completing repairs on the network.  
  • 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).


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