Northlanders have been warned of further power outages after Transpower revealed its engineers had discovered a “significant slip” near two towers that service the region.
The recovery and clean-up from Cyclone Gabrielle is ongoing in Northland, which was the first region in the country to be hit.
The cyclone caused widespread flooding, slips and tree damage throughout the region, leading to evacuations and dramatic rescues through floodwaters.
On top of that, the region was hit with another bout of flooding on February 24, devastating parts of Mangawhai.
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On Thursday morning, Transpower said the slip had been found “as part of inspections of our transmission lines” after the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle.
“We [have] identified a significant slip near two towers carrying high voltage electricity lines feeding Northland,” Transpower wrote on its Facebook page.
“The slip is located approximately 10km southwest of Wellsford and impacts two towers on different lines.”
Geotechnical engineers inspected the slip and the surrounding area and had recommended the towers are moved, rather than trying to stabilise them in place.
Transpower was “working to create a bypass for the higher voltage line”.
“To do this safely and reduce the risk of both lines being impacted by further slips we have removed the other line (110kV) from service temporarily,” Transpower said.
Because of this, the entire area from Warkworth heading north “is now being supplied exclusively through the double circuit 220kV line”.
“[This] increases the risk of outages in the region should a fault or another weather event occur,” Transpower said.
“While the risk of a fault or further slip on the 220kV line is small, we wanted to ensure that people are aware of the risk and able to take steps to prepare for any unplanned outages.”
Transpower acknowledged people living in the Northland region had been “through a lot” in recent weeks and were still feeling the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle, with damaged homes and roads.
“We are working closely with local lines companies Northpower, Top Energy and Vector to manage any local impact in their areas,” the power company said.
“Crews are now working to create access to the area to bring in necessary equipment, but this is challenging work that will take some time. At this stage we anticipate having the first stage of the bypass complete by the end of next week.”
Transpower said it wanted to assure locals it understood “how critical a secure supply of electricity is”.
“We are doing everything that we can to get the bypass in as quickly as possible to mitigate any risk.”