Bell Block back-up has Powerco set

Andrew Wilson demonstrates Powerco's new backup system.
Andrew Wilson demonstrates Powerco's new backup system.

A $500,000 back-up facility - from which Powerco's entire network can be controlled - has been built on a country road near Bell Block.

Lessons learnt from the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 had prompted the electricity and gas distribution company to set up the emergency recovery centre.

It will act as a back-up to Powerco's Network Operations Centre on New Plymouth's Junction St.

"We can operate the entire Powerco network from here," the company's network co-ordination team leader Andrew Wilson said.

From a room at the facility that contained three computers, each with four large monitors, Mr Wilson demonstrated how the network's sub-stations could be accessed from the facility and how the electricity supply could be switched on or off to accommodate repairs to lines.

This meant not only Taranaki networks, but also those in the Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Manawatu and other areas in the North Island could be accessed from the facility.

Mr Wilson said it took about 18 months of training for staff to be able to operate the system used and Powerco currently had 14 staff qualified to do the job.

Powerco acting electricity operations manager Phil Marsh said the new centre was a replica of the company's dispatch and control rooms.

"Should the unforeseen occur and Junction St needs to be evacuated, we can power up the Bell Block site and carry on business as usual."

The centre was commissioned before Christmas and was fully finished and ready to go about three weeks ago.

About 420,000 customers are connected to Powerco's networks.

Taranaki Daily News