One of the key findings from the Hawke’s Bay Engineering Lifeline Study was that the supply of electricity to Hawke’s Bay is limited by the capacity of the single line from Wairakei to Whirinaki. This line crosses two major fault lines. If this supply were to be lost, other sources would not be capable of maintaining the full supply of electricity to Hawke’s Bay to enable all homes and businesses to continue functioning.
There is a real threat that following a major earthquake, for example power could be lost to the region for at least several days.
A voluntary collective, known as the Hawke’s Bay Engineering Lifeline Group, aims to reduce risks and improve service reinstatement after a disaster. Their investigations are reported in 'Facing the Risk', published in November 2001. It assesses the risk and the potential affects to the Hawke's Bay community, including the risk of electricity supply failure.
If Hawke’s Bay had prolonged power losses the following could occur:
- Severe disruption to all services and businesses in the affected areas including phone and computer failure affecting banking and trade transactions.
- Short-term economic losses to industries and businesses operating in the affected area, in particular to the retail, hospitality industries, and industrial sectors.
- Long-term economic losses to many industries and businesses in the affected area, with an estimated long-term economic impact equivalent to 0.1-0.3% of GDP.
The 1998 Mercury Power Crisis in Auckland forced 54% of businesses to vacate their premises, affecting 70 000 workers and 7 500 residents. 400 businesses failed.
Each utility company in Hawke’s Bay undertakes comprehensive asset management planning to reduce the likelihood that it would no longer be able to provide services in an emergency event. The utilities also carry out recovery planning to minimise the time it takes to restore their services in a crisis.
An electricity failure affecting Hawkes Bay could occur on either Transpower’s transmission grid or on the local Electricity Lines Company’s equipment. The company whose equipment causes the loss of power would be the lead agency responsible for coordinating restoration of supply. The CDEM Group would have a role, if special powers were required to restore services, or to manage any social disruption issues.
^Top^What can you do?
Report electricity faults or outages to your power company.
Ensure you have at least one traditional phone in your home and business that is analog, i.e. not cordless or reliant on electricity to work.
Ensure your business is prepared. Ensure you have UPS (battery back-up) to allow you to close down IT systems in a controlled manner and to keep your telephone system operating as long as possible. The more dependent your business is on electricity the more important it is for you to investigate and install emergency back-up options such as diesel-powered generators.
Make sure you have emergency supplies in your home, including:
- Torch with spare batteries
- Radio with spare batteries (check all batteries every 3 months)
- First aid kit and prescription medicines Food and water for at least three days
- A gas or wood-burning barbeque to cook food and heat water
- A change of clothes for all family members (wind and waterproof clothing, sun hats, and strong outdoor shoes).
- A quantity of cash, notes and coins for manual purchases.