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Unison to Restore Network Supply to Patoka Substation

Unison has made great progress this week restoring the lines that feed the Patoka substation, which were extensively damaged by Cyclone Gabrielle. Unison expects to reliven the lines to the substation by late Friday, and then swap from generation to network supply on Saturday, so customers will no-longer rely on power being supplied by a generator.

Unison’s Incident Controller and GM for Commercial Jason Larkin says, “I want to thank the entire team for all their hard work to get Patoka back onto our network. This has been a huge job for our crews over recent weeks – they have worked extremely hard to restore the new poles and lines after parts of the network was destroyed by the cyclone and flooding.”

“Getting the substation reconnected to our network is significant. While customers in the area won’t notice any change in service, it will mean the region has a resilient supply of power and removes the risk of having to tanker diesel into the area, which is still cut off, to keep the generator running twenty-four/seven.”

“As well as restoring the lines to Patoka, earlier in the week we were able to restore lines in the Dartmoor, Rissington and Omarunui areas, which means we have more customers on a stable power supply. We have also made good progress restoring the lines in Tangoio, which we hope to reliven next week.”

Separate to the restoration work that is happening, Unison has a number of crews working through pockets of the community where power has been restored, but a customer does not have power due to flooding or damage to the electrical installation at their property including the meter box, and the service line connecting the property to the network.”

Mr Larkin says, “Our teams are literally working street by street, door to door to restore power to these customers. While the work can be slow going at times due to each property having a different problem to solve, great progress has been made so far, which will continue over the coming weeks.”

“I want to urge any customers who don’t yet have power in communities where power has been restored to please log a fault at www.unison.co.nz/outages or call 0800 2 UNISON (0800 2 86476). This will ensure we are aware of the issue and can make arrangements to assess and, where possible, restore power.”

“Every reconnection that we achieve is another 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.

Unison made good progress in Awatoto this week. They have been able to supply more power into the area, supplying residences and have power available for when Napier’s wastewater treatment plant comes back online. However, there is still a lot more work to do before they can get all customers fully restored.

“Having been able to fully access our Awatoto substation this week, we now understand the extent of damage caused by the flooding. We need to do further work over the weekend to decontaminate the site, but we should then have a clearer idea early next week of when power can be restored to the site, however it is looking like six weeks at this stage”, says Mr Larkin.

As at 5pm Friday, less than 590 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).

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