Damaged cable causes power outage

Electricity is expected to be restored to all customers in Timaru by about 6pm, after damage to a high voltage cable caused outages in the High St area.

The lights went out around High St at 1.10pm. Alpine Energy technicians believed the problem was due to an underground high voltage cable being damaged during Chorus' installation of fibre optic cable for high speed broadband, CEO Andrew Tombs said.

''Sometimes a damaged high voltage cable can hold in there for a while,'' he said. ''That's what we suspect. We could be wrong, we could be right.''

At about the same time, people in the Hinau Place area reported hearing a loud ''boom'' immediately followed by a power cut. Timaru firefighters arrived at the scene with two trucks after a resident called for help.

Mr Tombs said the Hinau Place incident was apparently caused by a failure at a meter box, and might have involved a small fire at the box or nearby. He was not certain whether the problem was on a customer's property or was part of the Alpine Energy network.

The High St and Hinau Place incidents were probably not related, he said.

The High St area failure left Smith City in the dark. Staff escorted customers off the premises as electrical stock went dead.

VINZ technicians on the corner of William St stood about bored, as did John Bradley Hyundai employees in King St next door.

VINZ vehicle inspector John Garrick said they could not even use the phone as it was attached to the computer system.

''We have no jack, no brake machines, and we're not going home until the roller door comes down,'' he said.

The Timaru Herald understands Couplands Stock Feed workers could not load trucks due to the outage and Chipmunks was temporarily closed.

Just one block down on the corner of King and Heaton streets, businesses did not appear to be affected.

Staff at Timaru Hospital said the medical facility was not affected.

Power had been restored to much of the High St area by about 3.30pm. As of 4.45pm, about 100 customers were still without electricity, Mr Tombs said.

He expected all power to be restored by 6pm.

Technicians would have to excavate the damaged cable, cut out the faulty section and replace it with new cable, he said. The repair was expected to take several hours.

Mr Tombs said he did not expect the work to require any road closures 


The Timaru Herald