29 Jan 2013

Canterbury fire risk forces change to rural network

8:50 pm on 29 January 2013

Lines company Orion is changing the way it operates its rural network temporarily due to the fire risk in Canterbury.

It has shut down all automatic reclosers on the network and will check overhead lines manually to find the cause of faults while the fire danger remains high.

The reclosers, which restore power to an overhead line after a momentary power cut, can increase fire risk in extremely dry conditions as they can create a spark.

Orion chief executive Rob Jamieson said on Tuesday the shutdown means it will take longer to get power back on, but a tradeoff has to be made between the risk of power cuts and the risk of fire.

Rural customers should have generators available in case of cuts, he advises.