Orion prepares for snow in Christchurch and central Canterbury

3 August 2016

Christchurch-based electricity distribution company, Orion New Zealand Limited, is ready to respond to any impacts on its network from the forecast bad weather.

“Our people are very experienced in responding to storms, and they are on standby to respond immediately if the power supply is affected in the next few days with the forecast snow,” says Orion Chief Executive, Rob Jamieson.

“If significant snow falls, some power cuts are likely. While we will do what it can to get the power back on quickly, and have response plans in place, conditions may hamper progress.”

Regardless of the reason for power outages, Orion advises it sensible for everyone to be prepared to be without power for a few days, as disaster can hit at any time. Those in remote rural areas should be prepared to be without power for longer. 

What can people do to help?

Often the majority of power cuts during storms in Orion’s network area are caused by trees falling into lines. Tree owners need to be aware of their responsibilities to keep trees and branches clear of power lines.

What can people do to prepare for possible power cuts due to the forecast snow storm?

  • People need to be prepared and have a plan to cope with the very cold conditions forecast.
  • Keep a torch, battery radio and warm clothes handy. To reduce the risk of fire use torches instead of candles.
  • Stock up on batteries for your torches and radio, have spare blankets at hand, and charge your mobile phone in advance. You should also have a plan for cooking food, such as on a barbeque or portable gas cooker, and check your gas bottles are full.
  • To avoid the possibility of electrocution of those working on the lines, we ask that anyone installing a generator to the mains supply have this undertaken by a registered electrician. An incorrectly installed generator may send power back into the electrical network while it is being worked on by linesmen resulting in electrocution.
  • Listen to the radio for Civil Defence messages and arrange to go and stay with someone else if necessary. We encourage people to seek assistance from friends, family or neighbours if needed.
  • If you are medically dependent on electricity, you need an emergency plan. Obtain medical advice and inform your electricity retailer.
  • If you use prescription medicines, please check that your supply is up to date.

If the snow storm eventuates and power supply is affected

  • Please keep a safe distance away from downed lines and treat them as live at all times. We appeal to people not to try and remove trees and branches from power lines.
  • To report a downed power line, call Orion on 0800 363 9898. To report a power outage, contact your electricity retailer. To report an emergency please call 111.
  • If you are without power we suggest you temporarily unplug electrical appliances to avoid potential damage from voltage fluctuations that may occur when power is first restored. Keep a single light on so you know when the power returns.
  • If calling Orion about your power supply, ideally have your ICP number available (this can be found on your power bill).