Unison Networks is reminding the community to take care around its electricity network following a significant increase in the number of third-parties making inadvertent contact with network assets.
Since April this year, Unison crews have been dispatched to 46 faults across Hawke’s Bay, Rotorua and Taupo to make safe and carry out repairs to both overhead and underground electricity assets damaged by third parties. This compares with 16 incidents at the same time in 2016.
These incidents include motor vehicle accidents, high loads contacting overhead wires and trees being felled though Unison lines. There has also been a number of near misses involving metal stakes being driven into the ground, narrowly missing high voltage cabling.
Unison’s General Manager Networks & Operations, Jaun Park, said, “Just last month we had six motor accidents, two high loads contacting overhead lines, and a handyman who felled a tree through our lines.
“We want to reiterate to the community the importance of being aware and vigilant about their own safety, and the safety of the community when around powerlines and cables. Whether it’s working in the vicinity of our poles and lines, trimming trees or digging, safety is paramount and we need to work together to eliminate these types of incidents.
“If you see a damaged pole, downed lines or exposed wires you should always treat them as live and the area as a potential electrical hazard, stay well away and contact Unison immediately. Likewise, when digging or driving stakes, you should always have cables located first which is a free service,” Mr Park said.
As well as the safety risk, Mr Park said last month’s incidents resulted in 4,331 customers experiencing power interruptions which would cause them considerable disruption.
Unison’s ongoing safety campaign continues this month, encouraging residential customers to contact Unison before they begin digging or staking this summer or before they attempt trimming or felling trees near power lines.
The Company also offers free electricity programmes for non-electrical contracting businesses working near electricity as well as a free award-winning safety education programme for schools in its network region.
Mr Park said Unison hoped that increasing awareness of these incidents, and the impact they have on both customers and the community, will reduce the number of accidents.
If you come across an accident involving the electricity network, call 111 for emergency services from a safe distance, then contact Unison on 0800 2 UNISON (0800 2 86476) to secure the area.