Northland power cuts now unlikely, but small risk of days-long blackout remains

The Cyclone Gabrielle recovery in Northland is finally looking brighter, with Transpower now saying widespread power cuts are unlikely.

Some parts of the region were without power for 10 days after the cyclone, leading to mastitis forming on dairy cows and freezer loads of food having to be thrown out.

On top of that, electricity grid owner Transpower discovered a significant slip near Wellsford last week, close to two towers carrying the high-voltage electricity lines feeding Northland.

It warned the whole of Northland and north Auckland was at risk of outages, with the area’s power being supplied through just one 220kV line.

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But Transpower now says the land around the slip has remained stable and work has progressed to make power cuts less likely.

“The slip near two of our towers carrying electricity to Northland has remained stable, with no further land movement. This has increased our confidence that we will be able to finish the bypass for the 220kV line without a significant power outage in the region,” it said on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon.

The slip near Wellsford, north Auckland, is dangerously close to two high-voltage lines but the land is now stablised.


The slip near Wellsford, north Auckland, is dangerously close to two high-voltage lines but the land is now stablised.

The work to bypass the slip remains on track, with work starting on temporary towers.

A 110kV line, which was most at risk of falling if the slip moved further, has been turned off to prevent it falling onto the 220kV line.

However, Transpower is working on a permanent solution for this line.

While the risk is now very low, the electricity grid owner is still encouraging Northlanders to be prepared for an extended power cut, in case the slip moves more.

“In the unlikely case a tower was to fail due to the slip, then we envisage at this stage having a circuit available within 48 to 72 hours.”

Transpower thanked the wider community for their continued patience, along with lines companies Top Energy, Northpower, Vector and Civil Defence Northland.

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