Update on recent Lyttelton outage and power supply

9 November 2016

Following Saturday’s power outage in the Lyttelton area, Orion would like to update the community on its work to improve the power supply to Lyttelton and the surrounding Bays.

We continue with our post-earthquake plan of restoring network resilience and reliability to our Christchurch community by 2019. This includes a plan to improve resiliency of supply for Lyttelton.

We appreciate Lyttelton has suffered a number of outages in recent years and we understand the frustration that this has caused for residents and the business community.  Improving the surety of supply of power in the Lyttelton area is a priority for Orion.

A key issue with Lyttelton is that it is serviced by two lines that sit on the same structure over the Port Hills.  If one line fails on this structure it can cause the other to fail given their proximity. The fact that these lines are exposed to the elements is a further challenge.

An update to the Lyttelton/Mt Herbert Community Board on what Orion is doing to improve resiliency by 2019 was provided in August of this year.

Orion has completed the first phase of a significant project to improve power supply to Lyttelton having undertaken significant work ($1.5m) to prepare the network in Lyttelton for a new and separate cable into the town via the Lyttelton tunnel. 

We have been working constructively with the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) on this. Any agreement reached on a tunnel route would take approximately 24 months to implement.

While these discussions continue, we are focusing on improving the reliability of the two existing overhead lines that service the Lyttelton area. Further work will be undertaken in the New Year.

In the case of the outage that affected Lyttelton residents over the weekend, a fault occurred at 3.19 am in the overhead lines servicing the Lyttelton region. Our team arrived to assess the fault before 4 am. Once the nature of the fault had been identified and our contracting team established what would be required to repair it, our priority was then to provide the community with as much information as possible, through as many channels as possible, and to keep them regularly updated.

We also deployed generators in some central Lyttelton locations to provide electricity to some customers.

Power was restored by 5 pm that afternoon, after initially anticipating that it would take until around 8 pm before supply was fully restored.