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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eastern suburbs face power cuts

Eastern suburbs face power cuts

Last updated 05:00 06/04/2011
Residents in Christchurch's eastern suburbs need to brace themselves for power cuts this winter, a lines company says.

Orion chief executive Roger Sutton said he was concerned about how the earthquake-stricken city's power supplies would cope this winter.

He said there could be four power cuts in the eastern suburbs, each lasting five hours.

Sutton said underground cables had been severely stretched in February's violent quake and the cold temperatures could cause some cables to fail.

"The power system is not going to be as reliable as it normally is this winter.

"If we had a really, really cold day tomorrow, the system would struggle to cope right now, but we are setting up more support for winter."

In central Christchurch on Monday, the temperature dropped to 8 degrees Celsius, prompting electricity usage to reach 74 per cent of its usual winter amount.

Usage reached 460 megawatts at 7pm on Monday. In winter, it usually reaches 620 MW.

Sutton said insulating plastic may have cracked, leaving some cables vulnerable.

"The people in the eastern suburbs have been frustrated over the lack of power, but considering the amount of land movement and liquefaction in the area we have really performed quite well," Sutton said.

"We don't expect the power system to be much different for people outside the eastern suburbs this winter.

"We do have one or two small problems, but there is nothing too significant."

The power company started work on new overhead lines on Monday to boost the eastern suburbs' supply.

He expected the work would be completed within the next three weeks.

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