Pining for a reconnection
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