Outage leaves homes in dark
A 40-minute power cut that affected Nelson residents from Atawhai to Wakefield from 6pm yesterday was caused by Transpower's attempt to re-integrate into the network a transformer that had been offline for repairs.
Transpower corporate communications manager Rebecca Wilson said the transformer was being put back into service when a problem arose that led to the power cut.
"It's quite complex, but it gets a bit tricky when you're putting equipment back into service . . . the equipment has to mesh back into the network."
She said Transpower had a team working to investigate exactly what happened, and the group expected to have more information about it by the end of the week. Ms Wilson said a second power cut was not impossible, but said Nelson and Stoke's power supply was running fine.
She said Transpower understood that the cut was inconvenient, and offered the company's apologies.
"From a domestic consumer's perspective, it's the most important part of the day," said Nelson Electricity general manager Phil Goodall. He said the early evening represented a peak of electricity use.
Network Tasman chief executive Wayne Mackey said the cut affected around 18,000 power consumers in Atawhai, Nelson City, Stoke, Brightwater and Wakefield. Richmond central was unaffected.
Nayland Kindergarten was holding its disco at Birchwood School when the power was lost.
Parent Steve Hussey said all the kids had glow bracelets on. Emergency lighting came on and it was only the fact that the music stopped that they realised there had been a power cut.
A parent raced home to get a generator and the disco was only out of action for 15 minutes, but everyone had a good time. "It was great."
Malia Klinge at Victory Square Fish and Chips Shop said the 40 minutes the power was out had been "a bit hairy", and they had had to give vouchers to those who were waiting for their food.
Stefano's owner Stefano Bonazza said there had been no drama, though it was lucky the power cut had not been on a Friday or a Saturday night, as there were fewer people.
State Cinema general manager Wendy Belcher said the cut had come as they were preparing to begin their 6pm session, but they had been able to run their 6.30pm session slightly later.
"It's just a matter of getting the projectors to start up again."
Nelson City Council representative Angela Ricker said the council had "possibly a 10-minute disruption" but did not have to call out civil defence or emergency management.
Nelson police reported no disruptions, and Nelson Marlborough District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming said the Nelson hospital generators kept the necessary systems working as planned.
Some residents reported difficulties using their mobile or smartphones, with some unable to text or access the web.
Telecom spokeswoman Holly Linnell said cell towers which could have been affected by the power cut had back-up batteries, and the problems were more likely caused by a brief spike in activity after the power cut.
Some of the reaction to last night's power cut on the Nelson Mail's Facebook page:
Julia Anderson-Wey: Trying to feed butter chicken to small kids by candlelight during a power cut is a pretty messy affair! Cracked open the old National Candles we have stored in the pantry. Though we had no power for 2 weeks after the Feb quake (before we moved to Nelson) so we're pretty good in the dark!
Sally Jeffries: Our dinner just finished cooking and we ate outside (except hubby's - he fired up the barbie). We got out our torches and all our candles. The kids thought it was very exciting!
Stein Lagerd: Sweet as. 9 mouths fed over gas cooker with a self charging torch hanging over head while cooking, many watts of wax all over the house in lanterns for safety while drinking a cold steinlager and conversing . . . thank you to my earthquake kit and children.
Emanuel Stoakes: I had no emergency pack, but funnily enough my wife spilled some water on the computer just before it went out, so we thought we'd fused the street! We quickly came to our senses and realised that would be impossible.
Jamie Knight: 40mins? Was out here in collingwood for 3 hours on tuesday night, definitely makes you realise how much we depend on electricity.
Dean Blaker: Will be interesting to see if there is a spike in births in 9 months!!!
- © Fairfax NZ News