22 Apr 2010

Power cut 'wake-up call' for Wellington

10:09 pm on 22 April 2010

Power has been restored to homes and businesses throughout Wellington after an accident at a substation caused a city-wide blackout on Thursday afternoon.

But emergency services say the blackout should be a wake-up call for residents - many of whom were ill-prepared to cope.

Transpower says a worker from a maintenance team appears to have dropped a piece of equipment on a live cable at a substation in Wilton.

The blackout started at 3.20pm and affected about 47,300 customers in the central city and suburbs from Seatoun to Khandallah.

It caused huge disruption throughout Wellington, trapping people in lifts and causing traffic jams as lights went out and trolley buses blocked lanes.

The power cut forced an end to the working day for many as shops and cafes were unable to trade, and computers went blank.

Wellington Hospital was forced to rely on battery power after its emergency generators failed to start.

Lines company Wellington Electricity lines said power was restored to the city by about 6pm.

The emergency preparedness manager for Wellington City Council, Fred Mecoy, says he is disappointed by the number of workplaces without battery-powered radios, torches or other emergency supplies.

Mr Mecoy says that after an earthquake, the capital could be without electricity for days or weeks.