8 Oct 2014

Farmers prepared for more power cuts

10:43 am on 8 October 2014

Farmers say they are stepping up their preparations for the event of power cuts, following the loss of electricity to tens of thousands of properties this week.


Farmers are preparing for future power cuts. Photo: Photo NZ

Gales topping 100km/h have caused havoc across the North Island, bringing down powerlines and trees, and damaging rooves.

Power was initially cut to 11,000 properties in Western Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Manawatu, Whanganui, Wairarapa and Tararua. By today all but 200 properties had electricity restored.

Te Awamutu farmer Chris Lewis said said there had been a few big powercuts in the area recently.

Mr Lewis, who farms about 1100 cows at Pukeata, said while the cuts were part and parcel of the farming game, a back-up generator was high on his wishlist.

"My cowshed is wired up already for a generator.

"So we can just about plug and play," he said.

"A lot of farms I talk to, it is on their shopping list.

If it wasn't for a low payout they would be a big sale item."

Mr Lewis said for farmers losing power meant losing money.

"With the power out your refrigeration stops working.

"If it's out for too long farmers will have to dump the milk, and as most farmers will tell you milk quality is one of the number one things they concentrate on."

James Stewart, who farms just outside of Palmerston North, said power seemed to cut out more during extreme weather than it used to - and he had brought in a generator just in case.

He cited severe storms in Canterbury last spring that saw some farms lose power for several days.

Mr Stewart said farmers relied on electricity more these days, so back-up was a must.

"As herd sizes have increased and milking times go for longer, production per cow has increased," he said.

"We can't have them not milked for too long or else we end up running into animal welfare issues."

Woodville contract milker Clint Worthington said land-owners could also take other steps to protect themselves in a power cut.

He said they could keep trees trimmed away from powerlines, and take care of equipment.

"Make sure our gear is well maintained so we are not going to blow fuses and put power out on the grid."

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