16,000 Customers Lose Power in New Zealand Tourist Region

November 19, 2018

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

In Taupo, New Zealand, normally an area where local businesses are busy catering to visitors looking to take in the natural beauty, trout fishing, and year-long outdoor activities near the country’s largest lake, a massive outage knocked out power for 16,000 utility customers as they headed into Monday morning. 

The outage was cause by an equipment failure at the Wairakei substation, tripping both transformers that supply the region.  While the repairs were completed by Monday afternoon, the extent of the damage required extensive testing before systems could be brought back online and power restored to customers, which would take an additional 2-3 hours, according to Transpower NZ, which owns and operates New Zealand’s National Grid.  Local utility Unison (News - Alert) indicated an additional two hours could be required to bring all customers back online. 

Power was fully restored by early Monday evening, but the outage cost many workers and businesses a full day of operation.  While many businesses opted to wait to see if power would be restored in time to salvage the day, considering initial estimates indicated power would be back my around noon.  But by mid-morning, that had been pushed to 3:00pm, which turned out to be close to when repairs were complete, but the testing and time to bring all systems online added several hours.  Even trade workers faced challenges when they had to refuel their vehicles in order to make it to their work sites and were left to wait.

Power outages present many challenges for businesses, which have to pay workers despite not being able to conduct business.  In addition the immediate lost revenue, companies that haven’t invested in power protection systems face an even greater risk of damage to the technology on which their operations depend. 

Power surges during outages – and when power is restored – can send higher line voltages than systems are designed to handle, damaging circuitry and causing systems to fail or corrupting software and data.  The time and cost of repairing or replacing equipment and software can be much greater than even a lengthy outage, causing days or even weeks of downtime, which can ruin businesses. 

Power protection systems with UPS capabilities are purpose-built to insulate business systems from surges and spikes by regulating line voltage at all times.  UPS capabilities provide, at a minimum, enough power to shut down systems manually to prevent any secondary damage to data, and extended runtime options can even power critical systems, like web or DNS servers, for the duration of an outage, keeping critical resources online.

Edited by Erik Linask