Lines upgrade work across district

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It is a race against the seasons and the elements as widespread work to upgrade the electricity lines network across Central Otago continues before winter.

The work is a bid by Aurora Energy to prevent the failures of the past, such as the ninehour failure in Clyde on the coldest day of winter last year.

An Aurora spokeswoman said this week work started in Roxburgh on 1.3km of new power lines, and replacement of 23 poles and two crossarms.

Aurora sent letters to residents plus vouchers to purchase refreshments at 103 The Store Cafe for those inconvenienced by the one to five planned power outages related to the project.

The vouchers can be redeemed between 7.30am and 4.30pm.

Next week and into the first week of May work would then focus on the main 33kV line to Omakau.

‘‘Any time the area’s only 33kv line fed from Alexandra experiences a fault, residents and businesses around Omakau, including Lauder, Ophir, Becks and Poolburn, lose power,’’ the spokeswoman said.

Aurora recognised the problem and had surveyed poles and lines, finding equipment defects along both the 33kV Alexandra to Omakau and the 33kV Omakau to Lauder Flat lines.

Included in the work would be 42 pole and 67 crossarm replacements, and the Omakau zone substation’s last maintenance before it is eventually replaced.

Lauder’s zone substation would receive planned maintenance, along with other asset upgrades in the Becks and Lauder area.

Following last winter’s outage in Clyde, the company’s project to improve security of power supply for Clyde was under way.

Clyde power was supplied from the southern end of the town and cables were being installed through the Alexandra Golf Course by Aurora contractor Delta as part of a project designed to create a back-up supply into the town from the north, creating alternative power in a fault.

Over a three-week period in May, Aurora’s contractor Network Waitaki would complete the project by upgrading the overhead lines in the Mutton Town area.

Aurora general manager work programming and delivery Mark Pratt said the Mutton Town project would provide greater security of power supply.

‘‘When the planning with affected customers is complete, we will upgrade a section of the overhead power lines with new poles and lines on Mutton Town Rd.’’

That would complete a new 11kV line between Alexandra and Clyde.

‘‘As part of our investment, there are several major projects planned over the next six years that will reinforce the supply to the Clyde-Earnscleugh area and provide Clyde with a backup supply from Alexandra,’’ Mr Pratt said.

Aurora works delivery manager for Central Otago Richard Morris said residents in Cromwell, Pisa Moorings and Lowburn could be assured when a fault occurs at Aurora’s Cromwell sub-station in Barry Ave, power to this whole area should not need to go out.

A recent upgrade of transformer capacity at Aurora’s Cromwell substation meant the area was futureproofed by two new $7 million 16/24 MVA power transformers, replacing two smaller transformers in service since 1981 when the station was built.

Fruit processing facilities and cool stores in an area heavily dominated by orchards and vineyards would also soon have greater security of power supply with a new alternative supply in Ripponvale Rd, near Cromwell.

Cromwell-based project manager Ben Bosustow said about 3km of new lines and poles have been installed to create a new back-feed supply.