Power cut investigation details released
The scope of the Government-ordered investigation into the electricity supply issues that led to more than 34,000 consumers being left without power last week has today been released.
Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods says New Zealanders have a right to expect that on a bitterly cold winter’s night that when they turn on the heater or flick on a light switch that they will be warm and not left in the dark when generation can’t meet demand.
The Minister has directed the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to carry out an investigation to look into the causes and factors contributing to the interruptions to the power supply on the evening of August 9.
Thousands of people in the central North Island had no power on August 9, after lines company Unison responded to Transpower's plea to lessen the burden on the network.
A Unison spokesperson says the firm's only option to comply is to perform a series of rolling blackouts.
Its website estimated around 9500 homes were affected in areas around Taupō, Hastings and Napier.
Other lines companies had been asked to reduce load and some are managed to do so without turning off supply, Transpower says.
Powerco, which runs the supply in Tauranga, did its bit to respond to Transpower's request for electricity lines companies nationwide to reduce load on the national grid.
Controlled hot water systems across Powerco’s electricity network areas were temporarily switched off to reduce network load and avoid the need to disconnect any customers.
Woods says she wants to know why there was not enough generation to meet demand and am seeking recommendations that will reduce the risk of future supply interruption and ensure any demand curtailment is appropriately managed.
“The investigation will look into how pending power interruptions are communicated to consumers, industry, stakeholders and whether the notices issued to market participants can be improved.
“In addition, the investigation will also look at the availability of generation, demand forecasts, security margins and whether existing arrangements deliver appropriate security and reliability,” says Woods.
Pete Hodgson will lead the investigation with Erik Westergaard being the specialist technical advisor. MBIE will provide secretariat support.
The investigation may draw upon information and insight from reviews being carried out by Transpower and the Electricity Authority.
Transpower, the system operator, is carrying out an internal review of its performance, and the Electricity Authority, the electricity market regulator, is conducting a review under section 16 of the Electricity Industry Act into how the electricity system performed.
The MBIE investigation will not: determine any breach of the Electricity Industry Participation Code or other laws; address methods to reduce electricity demand or to encourage generation investment; or consider ownership or institutional governance arrangements in the sector.
It is anticipated that the investigation will start on August 19, with a written report expected within 6-10 weeks.
The full terms of reference are available here.