Power outages to affect 5000

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Power out . . . Despite it being winter, 40 planned outages have been scheduled across the Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes districts this month to replace 114 unsafe power poles. PHOTO: ALLIED PRESS FILES

About 5000 customers across the Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes districts are expected to be affected by Aurora Energy’s planned power outages this month alone.

The company confirmed around 40 planned outages were scheduled across both districts this month to replace 114 power poles. In Central Otago, a total of 1266 poles needed replacing and 417 poles had been completed so far. Of these, 242 had been classified as “condition zero”, the lowest safety level.

“Aurora Energy is now halfway through its Fast Track pole programme and is on track to remove the risk of 2910 condition zero and one poles by the end of this year. To date, 1566 poles have been completed,” the company said.

“Aurora Energy is progressively increasing the number of Fast Track crews working in Central Otago that will see further acceleration of work over the remaining six months of the programme.”

Many Central Otago residents took to social media recently in response to the planned outages, questioning why works were carried out in the middle of winter.

Aurora could not provide the total number of complaints until the end of the month, but said it was a matter of safety.

“We understand the inconvenience that power outages cause, particularly in the winter months, and this needs to be balanced against the necessity to complete this work for the safety of the community.

“Aurora Energy understands the importance of a continuous supply of electricity for customers, especially those who are medically dependent, elderly or with small children at home.

“Our advice is for medically dependent customers to register with their electricity retailer immediately, if they haven’t already.

“We also recommend that everyone have a contingency plan in place. This could include having plans to relocate to another address which has electricity supply during a planned outage.

In response to claims that people were not informed of planned outages, the company said it notified electricity retailers at least 10 working days before a planned power outage occurred. Electricity retailers then informed affected customers directly, usually by post.