Causes of faults unknown

Under investigation: Aurora Energy people and customer GM Sian Sutton

Aurora says it doesn’t know what’s causing unexpected faults and tripping, which have left more than 2300 customers, including Coronet Peak skifield, without power three times in three weeks.

In a statement, people and customer general manager Sian Sutton says one of the electricity lines that takes power from the grid exit point at Frankton, where Aurora takes power from Transpower’s national grid to distribute it locally, tripped on June 22, July 1 and again yesterday.

That’s affected the same 2324 customers in Dalefield, Arthurs Point and Arrowtown.

Sutton says the Dunedin City Council-owned company, which last week won two national awards for a project to improve security of power supply to Otago Peninsula residents, started investigating the cause after the first fault and ‘‘are looking into this as a matter of urgency’’.

‘‘We are working with Transpower to get data that will help with our investigation, and until we complete the investigation we are unable to speculate about what may have caused the faults,’’ she says.

‘‘Until we find the cause and can repair it, there is a possibility it may happen again.

‘‘If it does, we would like to reassure customers that we are able to restore power quickly.’’

Sutton says they’re mindful any power cut’s inconvenient, but even more so in the middle of winter with Australians here on holiday, New Zealand school holidays about to start, and the ski season underway.

‘‘We are working hard to find out what caused the three faults, and solutions to ensure the problem is fixed.

‘‘We … will provide an update once we have completed our investigation, which we anticipate will be by the end of this week.’’

However, it has a ‘‘major programme of investment’’ underway in Arrowtown to provide ‘‘enhanced security of electricity supply’’, and is dropping $49 million into capital investment for the Queenstown-Lakes network over the next five years, she says.

‘‘A large part of our investment is targeted at maintenance and renewal of equipment to ensure the network is safe and reliable, so we can supply electricity to our customers when they need it.’’

Coronet: ‘It’s not us’

Coronet Peak boss Nigel Kerr says rumours the skifield’s causing the power cuts aren’t true.

The mountain uses ‘‘power shedding’’, in which if the operation takes too much power it ‘‘shuts down’’.

‘‘We’ve got a cap that we must work to, and if we touch that cap, things fall over,’’ Kerr says.

‘‘It’s not Coronet Peak, it’s called ‘your electricity supplier’.’’

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