Power failures hit swathes of North Island as winds topple lines and cold weather triggers surge

Power failures are affecting large swathes of the North Island tonight after electricity demand hit a record high.

Up to 20,000 households are understood to be without power after high winds brought down lines and cold weather saw power use surge beyond generation capacity.

A Trustpower representative told the Herald the outages were affecting parts of Wellington, Kapiti Coast, Palmerston North, Taupo, New Plymouth, Taranaki, Hamilton, Napier, Hastings, Auckland and Whangārei.

Many areas lost power about 6pm.

Staff are working to restore power but electricity may not be restored to some areas until after midnight.

A voice message on the Trustpower 0800 number says it “currently has no restoration times” and the company was experiencing high call volumes.

Wel Network, which supplies power to the Hamilton area, says due to insufficient generation to meet New Zealand’s load demands it had been instructed by national grid operator Transpower “to reduce the amount of load on our network with immediate effect”.

“As a result of this there will be rolling power outages across the region. It is unclear how long these outages will be required for, however it is expected that this will not impact individual customers for more than a four-hour period.

“As a precautionary measure, all medically dependent customers are advised to action their back-up plans or go to Waikato Hospital if required.

“We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding, and we will keep you updated.”

A person emailed the Herald to say “Massive disruption in Hamilton CBD”.

Another said power had just come back on in Napier.

Unison, which operates the electricity network that serves the Hawke’s Bay, Taupō and Rotorua regions, said it was responding to a Transpower request for electricity lines companies nationwide to reduce load on the national grid.

“This means that we are having to conduct a series of rolling power outages across our networks in Hawke’s Bay, Taupō and Rotorua.

“We fully understand that these outages are frustrating and inconvenient, especially given the current cold snap hitting our regions. We will do all we can to minimise the duration of these outages and apologise for any inconvenience.”

Transpower says nationwide demand for electricity is at an all-time high.

“Insufficient generation has been made available to meet demand and manage a secure system.

“As a result, Transpower has asked the distribution companies to reduce load. Different companies will do this in different ways, some manage via load control on hot water, some manage via customer disconnections.

“The situation is expected to resolve at 9pm tonight once peak demand for electricity has passed.”

A mother in Hamilton told the Herald: “Power cut that was apparently planned but NO warning until it was already under way. Not great while trying to keep the newborn warm on a night forecast to hit -2.”

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