17 Aug 2011

Power usage a record

9:18 pm on 17 August 2011

The frigid weather brought record electricity usage to large areas of New Zealand on Tuesday.

Northland, Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington and Otago/Southland all used more electricity in a day than ever before.

The country as a whole used 136.2 gigawatt hours of electricity on Tuesday, more than it did on Monday and significantly more than it used in the last snow storm three weeks ago.

Transpower chief executive Patrick Strange says Wellington usage on Tuesday night in particular was very high, 10% higher than the previous record.

He says that is almost certainly due to the increase in people using heaters.

Dr Strange told Morning Report that despite the high usage, there were no problems on the national grid with supply overnight on Tuesday. That was unlike the power surges in Wellington the previous night, when snow and lightning affected high voltage lines.

Some still without power

About 80 homes remained without power across Manawatu, Taranaki and Wanganui on Wednesday evening.

Powerco network coordination manager Dean Stevenson says that should fall to about 40 customers not having power overnight, as staff work into the evening to fix the problem.

Mr Stevenson says where possible, the lines company has arranged portable generators for affected customers.

He says high winds, fallen trees, snow and ice have been the main causes of the faults.

Meanwhile, southern lines company Orion expected power to be restored to all of its Canterbury customers by 9pm on Wednesday.

Power has been restored to more than 160 properties in Upper Hutt, but 50 homes in Akatarawa Valley and Whitemans Valley were still without power on Wednesday afternoon.