Vector: 1500 Auckland properties still without power after Tuesday night's storm

Vector says crews have had to grapple with more than 1000 trees

UPDATE Monday 6am: Vector says the approximate number of those homes or businesses still without power and/or hot water due to the storm is between 500 to 1500 but will continue to fluctuate due to weather conditions and more trees falling, which is causing new or additional damage.

The lines company says feeds to all suburbs are now repaired, with outages down to individual homes.

UPDATE / Sunday 7am: Some 3000 (or 1.5%) of the 180,000 homes and businesses that lost power during Tuesday night's storm are still without power, Vector says.

The lines company is now dealing with the remaining isolated faults scattered around Auckland, and on hot water faults. 

Its outage map is now back online and accurate.

Vector says crews are still being rostered around the clock, with extra supporting being brought in from out of town.

The company says the storm damage is the worst seen in "decades" and that it has had to "manage" more than 1000 trees.

UPDATE / Saturday 8am: For around 5% of Auckland properties hit by Tuesday night's storm, the power outage grinds on.

"Around 9000 customers remain without power heading into the weekend. Work to repair individual faults, which includes the restoration of some hot water pilot lights, will continue over the weekend, but will likely take us well into next week," the company's latest update says.

"We understand this is going to be a big disappointment to those customers affected and we are deeply sorry. All we can do is reiterate that we continue to have out-of-town field crews on to bolster our own crews and we are working around the clock to restore power as fast as possible. 

"In areas where the lack of electricity is also affecting access to running water or other essential services, we are working with Civil Defence to ensure basic living needs can be met."

The lines company says its outage map is now back online. It faced criticism earlier in the week as the web and mobile app versions of the map first did not load then (by Vector's own admission) did not show accurate information.

On social media, tempers are starting to fray:

UPDATE / Friday 3pm: Vector says 11,000 Auckland homes and businesses are without power this afternoon, three days after Tuesday night's storm that took out electricity to around 180,000 properties.

The lines company says after critical infrastructure is addressed, "Our next priority is the pockets of individual homes still without power due to failures on the low voltage network."

It adds, "This work, and the restoration of hot water pilot lines, will take us well into next week."

A mid-morning update from Chorus said 65 broadband cabinets are still offline following the storm. There are about 6000 customers affected. Extra technicians will work through the weekend, the company says.

See chorus.co.nz/outages for broadband blackout locations.

UPDATE / Friday 7am: Vector says 17,000 Auckland homes and businesses are without power this morning, three days after Tuesday night's storm that took out electricity to around 180,000 properties.The lines company estimates it will have nearly all power restored by the end of today.

Separately, Chorus says around 11,000 Auckland properties still without broadband (meaning its original estimate of 6000, see below, was a bit low-ball).

More wet and wild weather forecast for tonight.

About 100 Chorus roadside cabinets are without service around the region. Spokesman Nathan Beaumont says the majority of issues have been caused by power outages rather than direct storm damage to Chorus' network.

See chorus.co.nz/outages for broadband blackout locations.

UPDATE / Thurs 11am: Vector says around 41,000 properties remain without power.

The lines company continues to say it will be "several days" until all are restored.

Auckland Transport warns that lights are still out in parts of the city following the Tuesday night storm.

UPDATE / Wed 5pm: Vector's latest update says, "We have so far restored over 90,000 customers but there are many more to go. In some instances it could be days before power is fully restored to all customers."

There are still 91,000 homes and businesses without power after last night's storm.

The company is prioritising restoring power to critical infrastrcuture such as cell phone towers and schools.

It also apologises that, its website and app are still not displaying up-to-date outage information

EARLIER / Wed 9am: Vector's prediction that many Aucklanders could be without power for days has understandably hogged headlines.

But the city also faces multiple mobile network and landline broadband problems after last night's storm.

Spark spokeswoman Ellie Cross says her company's mobile network has not sustained any physical damage as a result of the storm.

"However, due to power outages caused by the severe weather overnight, 50 Spark cellphone towers around the country are offline, and a number of others are running on battery power. Where possible, we’re deploying generators to restore power to some cellphone towers this morning," she says.

"As the majority of the affected cellphone towers are in the greater Auckland area, customers may still receive some mobile coverage from other cellphone towers in their area. However, customers may experience slower than usual mobile data connections as the load increases on the remaining towers."

Spark has made its wi-fi network free for Auckland as the city deals with storm damage.

No password is required. A wi-fi hotspot locator is here.

Spark's outage tracker is here.

Chorus
Chorus (the wholesale/network provider of most landline broadband) was still in the process of compiling a storm report when contacted by NBR.

However, the outage map on its website shows a blizzard of copper and fibre line faults around Auckland and New Plymouth, plus a handful of others around the country.

If it follows the usual storm pattern, then the fortunes of Chorus' roadside cabinets will be tied to those of lines companies. [UPDATE: Chorus says around 6000 homes and businesses are without power in Auckland and Taranaki, and confirms most issues are power-related.]

Vodafone
A Vodafone spokeswoman says, "There are a number of sites down throughout the wider Auckland area. However, in many cases customers will be receiving service from surrounding sites. Generators are being distributed by technicians to the Mangere Bridge and Onehunga areas where customers may have seen some degraded cellphone coverage.

"The team is hard at work getting all our sites back up and running, and expect to see many come back online throughout the course of this morning."

Vodafone's outages map is here.

2degrees
"We have no reports of damage but obviously power is an issue," says acting corporate comms head Paul Brislen.

"We have a number of sites across the Auckland region that are either running on battery power or are down completely as a result of the storm. Predominantly these are in the west of the city and our technicians are working with both fibre network providers and electricity providers to bring these back up as quickly as possible."

Service status details are here.

As with Spark and Vodafone, 2degrees is largely reliant on Chorus for its landline service. Mr Brislen says a "handful" of landline customers are affected at this point.


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33 Comments & Questions

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The sky is falling down.

How ironic is it that AKL seems so precious. AT least you have neighbours unlike the back blocks of the 'naki.

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Half of the problems are caused by trees that should have been cut down ages ago. Busybody neighbors and councils make it difficult to get trees removed that are too close to powerlines, roads, houses etc. So whenever there is a reasonable sized storm, lots of power outages and communication network outages again due to trees or loss of power.

At least in the back blocks of the Naki, it would be easier to just chop down any trees that are in places they shouldn't be.

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Good point, when the greenies get their way we'll all be riding money-losing trams until the trees they won't let anyone cut down fall across the tracks.

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Vector are just using the trees as an excuse to cover their mismanagement. Vector have the powers to maintain trees, they just don't want to use them because they are scrimping on maintenance to maintain dividends and make so called technology investments in things like HRV and EES. Vector need to be held to account - checkout Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 and https://www.vector.co.nz/personal/electricity/what-you-need-to-know/tree...

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Those regulations don't allow Vector to deal with trees that are normally clear of lines. But which can drop branches onto, or damage lines if the entire tree falls over.

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maybe so, but only in some cases. Vector are hiding behind the tree issue. This is a failure of governance allowing inadequate risk management and a mediocre commitment to resilience. If the tree issues had been identified through a robust risk management framework, the network could have been hardened to cope.

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Thank goodness for the Duracell AA's :)

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Having been without power since Tuesday, restoration tonight would be great; Vector's own website says midnight tomorrow night. Who should we believe?

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Hello, I no you guys out their (Vector) are doing a marvellous job to get power back to most of the Auckland area, but could someone explain as to why Onehunga suburbs and perhaps others as well are running on half power!! my lights, fridge freezer, etc are just not coping with this. Your thoughts please!!
Thanks so much guys

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Turn your main switch off. As you might have a broken neutral connection. Which is a serious safety hazard. A girl IN Australia recently got electrocuted due to that. She was originally reported as being dead. But is lucky to be alive and have serious brain damage. Report the fault to Vector.

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And they want us to ditch all other souces of energy. Thank god we had gas for cooking and hot water, oh no sorry no more consents for gas.

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All known tree huggers should be sent the bill for the tree damage, and the power companies sent the bill for the loss of goods gone bad in freezers.

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"goods gone bad......." too could be sheeted home to tree huggers. As could be most brush fire damage in NZ.

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Kind of symbolic that the week the Labour-Green government outlaws oil-gas exploration the lights go out all week in the left-leaning, green-voting urban center of Auckland.

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Serves them right. That'll learn em!

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Agree. Especially ironic when considering that all of the natural gas distribution network supplying Auckland, which Vector also owns, remained live and unaffected by the same storm. Take a bow, oil & gas industry.

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Kind of symbolic that after nine years of underfunding infrastructure and services we're seeing these kind of outages.

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bad storm ....yes
Bad power management.....yes
3rd world response ....yes
will it get any better ....NO

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Actually it's not third world response, Vector has brought staff in from other parts of the country to reconnect power as fast as they can. The issue is that the number of outages far exceeds their ability to deal with them in a short time frame. The current weather isn't helping things. As to the fragility of the network to such a storm, that's not really Vector's fault. Vector has only been around for about 10 years or so. Prior to that it was Auckland Electric Power Board (AEPB). When the rules were changed AEPB's generation assets were sold to Mighty River, the distribution and retail side became Vector.

Many areas in the region still use overhead cables that are subject to falling trees, vehicle crashes & other issues. As the city grew it would have been cheaper and quicker to ram in a few poles and run cables between them than dig trenches and run cables underground . That's not solely AEPB's fault as they weren't the only Power Board in the region, there were others such as Waitemata Electric Power Board (WEPB). So, a lot of the current network is above ground and will be affected by weather events like we just had.

The real issue then becomes, why does Vector only commit $10.5 million per year on undergrounding the network yet made over $190 million in earnings (EBIT) in the six months to December 2017 just from the regulated lines network? The recent storm again highlighted the fragility of the network yet Vector spends a pittance protecting it.

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Good question in your last paragraph. NBR will put it to Vector.

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Might want to also ask Auckland Council why in replaceing road gutters and footpaths they don’t use this to coordinate running power conduits through for both Vector and fibre for Chorus they could be charging for this and mitigating their costs as well.

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Why not require property owners to remove trees that overhang, or are within a certain distance of the network?

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No it will never happen.... too sensible. This is NZ we don't do sensible here.

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Because the council doesn't want to pay the money. Many of those trees that came down on Tuesday night and took the power lines down with them are actually council owned trees that sit on the grass berms!

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Are you talking about trees on the grass verge? I do not want to be made financially responsible for the Council’s trees. I pay enough in rates. The Council can maintain and trim their own trees. Besides, I live on a property that has two other houses. Who is going to coordinate financial contributions from the other two properties? Too simplistic a suggestion. I’m with Kerry Smith. I would forego more of the Entrust dividend if it meant underrounding was completed sooner. That’s a better shirt to medium term outcome than my $520 a year.

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If you live in Auckland then you are going to be paying for a hell of a lot more than just some tree removal.
What do you think it will cost to stop the sewage flowing on to the beaches?
You either harden up and pay your share or you head for the hills. Your call.

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They can and they have both the powers and obligation to do so under the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003. Vector have been asleep on the job as usual!
I've lost $500 of food and more in inconvenience this week - not a word from AECT and no accountability from the Board. They are all incompetent and there seems to be nothing the poor old consumer can do.

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Save your time Mr Keall. You should be able to ascertain their, quite reasonable response; ="Then we get an earthquake, and the cry changes to, "we haven't got enough diggers to find/repair the faults"
Harden up Aucklanders, learn a bit of self-reliance.

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Hi Chris, please also ask them
1. why they haven't used the powers they have under the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 to maintain the resilience in the network by managing trees threatening the network.
2. Why they spend money our money on sponsoring lights on the harbour bridge and the Wero water park when they have no need for sponsorship because they are a monopoly and their customers have no choice.
3. What has been the true return/benefit from all the investments they have made outside of the AECT customer network e.g. Windfarms, HRV, EES, NGC etc. Seems like they are wasting our money in favour of keeping their lawyers and investment bankers employed.
4. Why did they take the disastrous step to list on the NZX and raise external capital, thus introducing the interests of financial investors rather than just consumers - consumers want resilience not dividends, financial investors want dividends - that is why they don't invest in tree maintenance and under grounding.

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My area in Whenuapai West Auckland damage fixed and power restored not by Vector but by Horizon From East Bay of Plenty.Thanks Guys ...took 2 days.
Damage by trees close to power lines on private property a massive problem all over Auckland ,rural and urban.Time Vector got aggressive with property owners and give them deadlines to trim trees or cut the power off till they do.

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New Zealanders do need to put this into some sort of context instead of allowing themselves to become highly strung over it as New Zealanders are want to do. I lived in Massachusetts for a number of years and it was not uncommon during bad winter snowstorms for the power to go off for days to those who lived in the outer suburbs of Boston and other rural areas of the State. Accumulations of snow and ice on tree branches and on the lines themselves become very very heavy and eventually they snap, taking the lines down with them. Six million people live in and around Boston so the scale of these outages are of an order of magnitude much greater than what Auckland is currently experiencing. The New Englanders cope. Bear in mind too that the temperatures outside are sub zero 24/7 and there may be 3-4 feet of snow covering everything (it won't melt, it's too cold, you can only shovel that sh*t to one side to make a path) so movement is restricted. Of course, Americans being pragmatic and sensible people heat their homes with oil and gas.....so warm houses and lots of hot food and showers.

Auckland experienced a major storm the other day, I'd estimate it as a one in ten-year event. I don't think Vector has done too bad in the circumstances. Yes there are some issues it needs to focus on, and I'm sure it will. The other issue is for Aucklanders themselves, however. Just how resilient are you at an individual and family level?

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I agree Steve, no panic at this stage.
Just as well we are not all driving electric vehicles , is it not?
I notice that the electricity lines company servicemen do not use electric vehicles.
What a total disaster that could be.

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This latest fiasco is no surprise to those of us who can remember the entire CBD being without power for 6 weeks sometime in the late 90s and the another occasion about ten years ago that took out the whole area for a few days.

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