Irrigation interruption test

16 December 2021 at 10:37 am

UPDATE: Testing postponed to the new year

With all the wet weather we’ve been having, Orion's loads have not been up to the level needed to give a good test of the system.

For this reason, Orion has postponed running the test to the new year, before the end of this irrigation season - weather permitting.


17 November 2021: Irrigation interuption test before Christmas

Orion will be testing its facility to divert power from central Canterbury irrigators to maintain essential services in emergencies some time before Christmas.

During the test, the power to irrigators that are part of the Irrigation Interruptibility scheme will be switched off for around 40 minutes.

Irrigation uses a significant amount of electricity in central Canterbury. Under the scheme, Orion pays rebates to customers who allow them to interrupt the supply to designated irrigators during a capacity emergency to help keep the power on for the wider community.

Used only rarely, the scheme allows Orion to reduce the load to irrigators leaving enough capacity remaining in the network to continue to supply electricity to more essential services, such as dairy sheds and medical centres. 

Orion says it is important to test the scheme to know how much power could be available when it is implemented.

This year’s test will be carried out progressively with groups of irrigators turned off at different times over a few days. The results will help Orion be more selective if the time comes to divert power from irrigators.

The test will be conducted when irrigation loads are high, before Christmas.

Steve Macdonald, Orion General Manager Electricity Network says, “To truly test its effectiveness, unavoidably, this test needs to be undertaken during a period of high irrigation usage. 

“To be realistic, it needs to happen in a true to life situation and we cannot let customers know the date and time in advance.

“We have kept the duration down to a minimum in an effort to ensure the test does not inconvenience irrigators unduly when it happens.”

Orion is also offering the option to text those impacted when the test is happening for their group of irrigators.

If irrigation customers would like a text when the test is on, have any questions, or wish to discuss withdrawing from the scheme now or after the test, please call Orion on 0800 363 9898 or email