36 hours without Power has Southland community seething

36 hours without Power has Southland community seething

The worst wind storm in 20 years left a Southland community without power for a day and a half and residents frustrated at efforts to restore electricity.
 
The lower South Island was hit by what was believed to be the worst windstorm in 20 years on Sunday, causing power outages and disruptions to more than 11,000 of PowerNet's 70,000 customers in Southland and Otago.
 
Greenhills man Gerald Peryman said he lost power at his home on Princes Rd at 8:15 pm on Sunday, and did not have power restored by PowerNet until 9am on Tuesday.
 
"A day and a half without power is beyond a joke without any reliable information," he said.
 
Peryman said he rang PowerNet four times on Monday evening. He said he was frustrated by the lack of accurate information he received.
 
"I got the distinct feeling they don't really care too much," he said.
 
"We're not millionaires. We're just a little community of average Kiwis."
 
Peryman said it was the longest he'd gone without power in the five years he had lived at his house. Frozen food had begun to thaw, and he had to cook with a gas stove.
 
"We lose power very often. We have an outage here probably once every two months. This has been happening for four or five years."
 
Peryman said he was also concerned about the health and safety of neighbours during such a long outage.
 
"I'm just concerned about the way they're disseminating the information to people. There's old people struggling as it is."
 
A neighbour who had lived in the area for 75 years said PowerNet's response to the outage was "damn terrible," and she kept warm with a gas heater and fireplace.
 
Another neighbour said his children had to eat four litres of melting ice cream, and he made about 80 calls to PowerNet.
 
PowerNet chief executive Jason Franklin defended his company's response.
 
"We're doing all we can to restore power when we can," he said.
 
"We were doing all we could. We were definitely overloaded. We haven't seen a storm like this since 1995."
 
Franklin said less than 100 customers remained without power by Tuesday afternoon.
 
He said the dangerous conditions and long hours repair crews had to work meant crews had to stand down during the worst of Sunday's storm.
 
"There were times Sunday evening when we did stand crews down because it wasn't safe," Franklin said.
 
Crews were back to work early Monday when it was safer and they could work more efficiently, he said.
 
"It's probably not the most effective to have people out between one and three Monday morning."
 
He said Greenhills residents' complaints meant the company could respond better in the future, but overall he was pleased with how crews performed.
 
"At this point I'm very comfortable with how our crews did their job. I'm very pleased with how our teams responded."
 
The MetService said a new storm was expected to hit the lower South Island on Tuesday evening, with wind gusts reaching up to 140 kilometres per hour.
 
Franklin said crews were on standby.

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