Residents fired up over slow power fix

NEIL REID
Last updated 12:20 15/06/2014

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A representative from Vector Power Company has addressed complaints about the slow response to outages in Auckland after Tuesday’s storm.

''We appreciate the frustration from some costumers and reiterate that there are numerous crews out working on these hot water issues alone,'' says spokesperson Sandy Hodge.

She admits the large level of damage from the cyclone-force winds earlier this week has taken days to repair.

''Our priority is to ensure the large outages are fixed first, then the smaller area outages, so that customers can have heating, cooking facilities and lighting.''

She says the crew put in ''immense effort'' in restoring all but 15 customers out of 90,000 and that the last issues will be resolved today.

Yesterday many vented their growing frustrations in writing on the Facebook pages of their power suppliers. Several residents also shared their anger with the Sunday Star-Times, including mum-of-two Pauline Malpass who said: "It is crazy and it is so frustrating, you try to get some answers and you get nowhere ... you get these poor devils on the customer service desk who are probably inundated with these calls from me and everybody else. You don't get any joy."

Malpass, who lives in the North Shore suburb of Hillcrest, and her family have been without hot water since Tuesday.

After several days of cold showers, her family managed to "beg" hot showers from friends living nearby. She said energy officials were unable to say when her house would have hot water again.

"People say you have got to harden up, but there is no real reason why this has happened," she said. "They just said it is the storm, but I don't know what the hell this storm has done to our hot water. We can't just keep scabbing [hot] showers off everybody."

Hodge said Vector have had to closely monitor fatigue levels within staff to maintain safety and the hot water supply is on a different system to the electrical network.

''It's possible to have had power on since the storm, but vegetation or debris has struck the hot water supply system, taking it out,'' said Hodge.

''Please remember that hot water cylinders do take some four to six hours to heat up.''

Malpass described that response as "absolute bullshit".

Earlier this week she paid $80 for an electrician to give her cylinder a check. A neighbour paid another electrician $96.

"I thought my element had gone and he said no [it was fine]," she said. "These electricians are probably creaming it now."

Malpass said she was staggered at the number of outages considering the conditions the storm brought were not out of the ordinary. "I come from Ireland and was talking to my dad this morning and he goes, 'I told you you went to a Third World country'.

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"They are blaming the storm that happened on Tuesday that 'created' havoc and I was thinking,'A few trees fell down ... that is not havoc, that is a storm that happens all the time'."

But Aucklanders feeling the chill probably won't get too much sympathy from hardened Mainlanders this weekend. In 2006, 12,000 homes in South Canterbury lost their power supplies following a massive snowstorm. It took three weeks for some affected properties to have their electricity restored.

- Sunday Star Times

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