Electricity problems in Auckland

Yesterday, the power went off in parts of eastern Auckland and Newmarket around 1.10pm. There was a fault in the transformer at the Penrose sub-station. This sub-station usually has three transformers but one was not working because it was being maintained, another broke down and the third transformer could not carry the load. These transformers are 35 years old but they are well maintained.

For some time yesterday, about 74,000 people had no power. Many shops, restaurants and businesses in Newmarket and Sylvia Park had to close. This meant a loss of money, maybe millions of dollars. Traffic lights did not work. Electricity is used to pump sewage a long way out to sea but yesterday this did not work so sewage went straight into the harbour. People were told not to swim near St Heliers and Okahu Bays and not to collect shellfish there.

Meanwhile, Transpower is working fast to fix the transformers. The company has asked people not to use too much electricity and they have turned off hot water in houses to save power.

Today there was also fault in the Otahuhu sub-station. Power was off for around 30 minutes in some areas.

Auckland has had electricity problems before. Ten years ago, the central city had no electricity for five weeks. Three years ago, the Otahuhu sub-station broke down.

The Energy Minister, Gerry Brownlee, said the government has given $50 million to improve electricity supplies but it may not be enough.