Essential maintenance to replace a structure on the Kaitaia 110kV line was completed during the planned outage on Sunday 18 November, with some delays to restoration caused by vandalised equipment.

Top Energy Chief Executive Russell Shaw says a damaged excavator and vehicle at Top Energy’s Fairburn site was a frustrating start to the day for the crews who had some tough deadlines to meet.

“We know the inconvenience outages cause. It is extremely frustrating to have our work impeded by such a senseless act, which ripples out to the whole community.”

Mr Shaw is cautiously optimistic that this may be the last year that an outage of this duration will be required while undertaking annual maintenance on the single 110kV line.

“This year with the use of back up generation in Taipa and Kaitaia we were able to limit the scale of the outage to 4,850 customers. Without the diesel generators 10,000 customers would have been affected.”

He says that the company is progressing its resource consent application for a Kaitaia based generation farm that will provide a total back-up generation of 16MW which could supply 10,000 customers. The two Taipa diesel generators combined provide 4MW of electricity.

“This means we can maintain power during power planned and unplanned outages. It also means that we have more flexibility in how we manage out network and can move the generators to the source of the outage rather than having to invest in costly upgrades.”

Mr Shaw says this is certainly pertinent in the current environment as the company can no longer undertake live line work. There have also been delays to the building of a second 110kV line due to further legal challenges from landowners.

“Diesel generation is becoming, through necessity, a key network management strategy to keep the power on.”

The company has embarked on a $170 million investment strategy, that in addition to diesel generation, explores the viability of micro-distribution networks such as solar panels, batteries and other localised generation.

This approach will be help provide service to areas that are connected to the network but are either uneconomic or challenging to access due to their remote location and restricted customers numbers.

For more information contact:

Philippa White – 021 2418740 or philippa.white@topenergy.co.nz

Top Energy, which is owned by the people of the Far North, is committed to providing a reliable and resilient electricity network which keeps abreast of evolving technologies such as localised generation, solar power, and microgrids. Over the last decade its $260 million investment programme has involved substantial improvements to the network which now has an asset value of $250 million – up from $128 million when the programme started in 2009.  This investment programme will continue. Over the next decade we will invest another $170 million to ensure our customers continue to receive a high quality and secure supply of power.