Pin­ing for a re­con­nec­tion

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE - MIKEWATSON

East Taranaki hill coun­try farm­ers left with­out mains sup­plied elec­tric­ity since a Fe­bru­ary storm are to get a new un­der­ground sup­ply that isn’t vul­ner­a­ble to fall­ing trees.

Ex-Cy­clone Gita brought gale force winds of up to 140kmh that caused dozens of pine trees grow­ing close to over­head lines in the iso­lated com­mu­nity to blow over and cut sup­ply.

Lines com­pany Pow­erco was un­able to re­con­nect Matau North Road farm­ers Chris and Ann Jensen and in­stead sup­plied gen­er­a­tors to en­sure elec­tric­ity to their prop­erty, 65km from New Ply­mouth.

Lasat week Pow­erco ser­vice de­liv­ery and sys­tems op­er­a­tions gen­eral man­ager Ian Skip­worth said restor­ing elec­tric­ity to the iso­lated ru­ral prop­er­ties had been given pri­or­ity and was cur­rently be­ing priced.

A full 11 kilo­Volt sup­ply would be re­stored to the prop­er­ties by un­der­ground cable laid along Matau North Rd, Skip­worth said.

A sec­tion of un­der­ground cable would by­pass an ex­ist­ing pine block along­side the road, where trees had been blown over and fallen onto the over­head power lines.

Un­der­ground­ing was seen as the best, although more ex­pens- ive, so­lu­tion to avoid any fur­ther dam­age to power lines in the pine for­est dur­ing storms, he said.

Skip­worth said trees fall­ing across lines were a prob­lem across the com­pany’s North Is­land net­work.

‘‘We try to col­lab­o­ra­tively with own­ers to pre­vent sit­u­a­tions aris­ing.’’

Chris Jensen, whose fam­ily had farmed in the val­ley since 1903, said the de­ci­sion to lay the cable un­der­ground was the best op­tion.

Fall­ing trees caus­ing power dis­rup­tions were an on­go­ing prob­lem with ev­ery storm, he said.

He said the gale winds whipped up by ex-Cy­clone Gita were very ‘‘vi­cious’’ for around 30 min­utes and caused most of the dam­age.

‘‘We lost all power to the house and we were able to use our own gen­er­a­tor for a week un­til Pow­erco were out here as fast as they could with a big­ger one which we have used since.

‘‘It makes a bit of noise but we turn it off a night and on again in the morn­ing.’’

Jensen said the main con­cern was pine block own­ers plant­ing trees within the reg­u­la­tion 15m from the road and this was prov­ing to be too close to power lines as the trees grew. en­gage for­est such

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