A $50 credit offered by Aurora Energy to consumers after Sunday’s nine-hour power cut to Clyde has been labelled an insult to out-of-pocket businesses.
Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said businesses were struggling to catch up on lost trade after the Covid-19 lockdown.
Cafes and restaurants were plunged into darkness about 7am as they prepared breakfast on what is typically the busiest day of the week for the Central Otago town’s hospitality industry.
While the credit might be “almost” warmly received by households it was cold comfort to business forced to shut up shop as the timeframe for power to be restored stretched out, from 11am to eventually being an estimated time of arrival of 4pm, he said.
“Fifty dollars when you are comparing business costs in the thousands is basically an insult.”
The question of compensation was something Olivers Restaurant and Bar owner David Ritchie was keen to know.
“There’s a level of liability.”
He had lost a full day’s trading and estimated the cost of this amounted to about $4000 in lack of revenue, staff wages, and wasted food and coming just after lockdown it was a cruel blow.
“It’s a tough time and to have that thrown in on top . it’s pretty hard.”
Guests at Olivers Lodge and Stables were forced to dine by candlelight, he said.
As the power cut dragged on he “made the call, we were gone for the day”.
The Old Clyde Bank cafe owner Wendy Hecht-Wendt said the biggest thing thing for her business was the “lack of communication” as to a clear time for when power would be restored, meaning staff were kept in limbo in the middle of false starts for power to resume.
“We were here with staff sitting and waiting only to get
“We still have to pay our staff for that day.”
The power cut was “hugely damaging” to businesses attempting to recoup losses from lockdown-enforced closures.
Post Office Cafe and Bar owner Jackie Biemond said she had 80 people booked for lunch and estimated her losses also sat at about $4000, however, she reopened again after power was restored.
“We didn’t really need it and it is a shame it happened post-Covid.”
Paulina’s Restaurant owner Paulina Corvalan said she had managed some trade due to her restaurant having a woodfire oven but opted to close for the evening and cancel all bookings.
The situation was not ideal with a lack of lights and electronic payment not an option, she said.
The service industry was also affected.
Dunstan Motors owner Ann-Maree Lines said takings on a Sunday typically sat around $3000 to $4000.
Mr Cadogan said he was concerned about the town’s elderly, made visits to check on their welfare and was heartened by their resilience.
That situation could have easily changed if the blackout had continued, he said.
Elderly residents in Clyde’s council-owned Annan Flats had toughed it out with a lack of heating and could find some humour in the situation, 90-year-old John Irvine said.