Use electricity sparingly, residents told
NZPA March 5, 2011, 4:32 pm
Lines company Orion is urging people living in Christchurch's eastern suburbs to use as little electricity as possible.
Chief executive Roger Sutton said the electricity network in suburbs east of Ferrymead bridge was extremely fragile.
"We got the Brighton substation - which supplies much of the electricity to the eastern suburbs - live again on Thursday night. However we've found that the underground cables that take electricity from that substation are more badly damaged than we first feared," Mr Sutton said.
140 cables across the network had faults on them. Some of these cables have suffered multiple failures. In some cases entire sections of cable are being replaced.
Earlier, Orion announced that 95 percent of Christchurch homes had their power restored and the remaining 14,000 would get it back by tomorrow night.
But today Mr Sutton said that target of tomorrow night would not be met.
"We aren't going to be able to get all customers on by Monday night but our goal at the moment is 99 percent of customers outside the CBD (central business district) on by Monday night."
There could be as many as 600 faults, which was more than 10 times the number of cable faults the company would usually have in a year, he said.
He was also concerned that a cold snap over the next few days could see people use more electricity.
"If electricity use goes up in the eastern suburbs it will put more stress on an already fragile network and we will be at risk of the power going back off again for some people.
"Please use the absolute minimum amount of power -- particularly during the peak time of between 5pm and 6.30pm. Hot water cylinders are a large user of power -- use your hot water sparingly, and if at all possible, turn your cylinder off at the wall."
However, Mr Sutton said people should continue to use appliances if there was a medical or health reason.
Appliances to avoid or using were clothes dryers, electric heaters, air conditioning units, the hot wash in the washing machine and heated towel rails.
Many homes in Brighton, Dallington and other eastern suburbs have been without power since the 6.3 magnitude earthquake on February 22.