Grant Robertson says there will be enough power, but warns cable won’t be fixed tonight

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the country has enough electricity generation to get through the most recent electricity emergency.

But Robertson conceded that demand for electricity would be high over the next three days as the country heads home and turns on the heating for a level 4 lockdown.

He also said the problem that caused the power emergency wouldn’t be fixed on Tuesday night, meaning Transpower and lines companies may need to continue efforts to manage electricity demand over the coming days.

On Tuesday afternoon, Transpower warned of potential power cuts after a tower arm failure reduced the amount of power coming north from the South Island.

It issued an emergency notice in the afternoon, but by the evening the emergency was declared over.

This meant Transpower had to call on additional generation from the North Island, while at the same time asking lines companies to reduce the amount of “controllable demand” from the grid – this meant demand from things like hot water.

Regarding the broken wire, Robertson said Transpower was “confident they will get that up and running in the next 48 hours – hopefully earlier than that”.

“There are crews onsite, they are going to be working as much as they can this evening, but as you’ll understand it’s work that requires daylight so they’ll continue that work tomorrow,” Robertson said.

Robertson said that this timeline for fixing the wire meant there would continue to be measures to control the amount of demand for electricity.

This is particularly true during the evening, when households put the most power on the grid.

“As a result of that, there will be continuing work done over this evening and into tomorrow to manage tomorrow evening’s peak as well.

“As long as there is no equipment or plant failures then we are confident we will be able to get through this.

Transpower said that as of 7.30pm today, “The risk of a power outage this evening has passed, barring a major plant failure.”

Generators were able to offer more generation and lines companies were able to lower demand, meaning there was enough electricity to go around.

Transpower also said “provided circumstances do not change, we do not expect an issue for the morning peak tomorrow.”

Genesis energy, which came under fire for not being able to deliver enough generation during the power outages last week, said it was ramping up generation.

It said it had one coal-fired Rankine unit already running at Huntly Power Station.
In response to the request for more generation, Genesis has put that Rankine into “overload mode” which will enable another 10MW of generation to help get through the evening peak.

”We are also extending the planned running of our 50MW peaker unit at Huntly beyond 8.30pm this evening, when it was originally due to shut down,” the company said.

Genesis is also getting two moreRankine units ready for use should they be required.
Rankine units take several hours to fire up, and Genesis said it will be 3am before either of the additional two Rankines will be ready to generate electricity.

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