Lockdown's reduced power demand gives Transpower time to fix conductor

6:03 pm on 18 August 2021

Reduced electricity demand under lockdown is buying Transpower time to fix a crucial power line.

power pylon

File image. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

A high voltage cable that fell across State Highway 7 in North Canterbury yesterday has now been suspended again, allowing the road to re-open.

But because of difficult weather, the cable itself isn't expected to be fixed until late Sunday afternoon.

The wire is crucial to route power to the North Island.

But Transpower says because the lockdown has reduced nationwide power demand by 15 percent, it doesn't expect to have to restrict supply or call for more generation.

"We are in regular communication with industry regarding the situation, how demand is looking and what our level of supply is," Transpower said in a statement.

"We are currently forecasting sufficient supply to meet demand this evening and out for the rest of the week, barring a major plant failure."

On Tuesday, Transpower issued a grid emergency notice for the North Island after the wire the in Weka Pass area fell.

Inspections found revealed six towers which normally hold the conductor (wire) had been damaged as part of the failure.

"We have crews on site now and work is well underway to plan the repairs," Transpower said.

"Replacement equipment and conductor has been dispatched for delivery to site. The safety of our people is of the upmost priority particularly now we are operating under Covid-19 alert level 4 protocols.

"The terrain, ground conditions, and current and forecast weather is making the work challenging."

An investigation into why the conductor fell would take time to complete but it appeared to be a one-off fault and not a systemic issue, Transpower said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs