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A resident asks the electricity company to sort out our unreliable supply

Ōtātara resident Lindsay Buckingham says the fact that there is already a supply line at the intersection of Curran and Longford Rd means a second power supply could easily be taken to the suburbs.

Kavinda Herath/Stuff

Ōtātara resident Lindsay Buckingham says the fact that there is already a supply line at the intersection of Curran and Longford Rd means a second power supply could easily be taken to the suburbs.

Fed up with his community being without electricity for hours, a resident of Ōtātara called on the owners of PowerNet to invest in infrastructure.

The suburb, outside Invercargill, recently experienced a seven-hour blackout when high winds knocked trees through power lines, leaving some residents without phone lines, internet and the ability to pump water of their reservoirs.

Lindsay Buckingham said it was the third time line damage had left residents without power for hours, but the problem could easily be solved by adding an extra feeder line in the suburbs.

PowerNet chief executive Jason Franklin said the company was considering several solutions for the suburbs, including Buckingham’s suggestion.

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Now retired, Buckingham, who has a background in engineering and project management, said most of Ōtātara was powered by a single charger that ran from Invercargill to the suburbs, which meant that if the line was damaged, there was no backup line.

In June, residents were without power for nearly eight hours on what was believed to be one of the coldest days of the year after a vehicle slammed into a power pole.

Parts of the neighborhood have gone 1,580 minutes or 26 hours without power over the past 12 months due to weather events, the crash and line damage, Buckingham said.

But that could have been dropped to around 300 minutes by splitting the feeder line and running a second line into the suburbs from the existing feeder line at the corner of Curran Rd and Longford Rd, he said.

He presented his solution to the Southland Electric Power Supply Consumer Trust, owner of PowerNet, at its Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Considering that Ōtātara was PowerNet’s third largest residential consumer population behind Invercargill and Gore, Buckingham felt that there were strong arguments that residents deserved security of supply.

PowerNet CEO Jason Franklin said Buckingham was asked to present at the AGM because, as a customer, he was considered a beneficiary of the Southland Electric Power Supply Consumer Trust.

The company reviewed and updated its network asset management plans every year, and improvements for Ōtātara were considered as part of that process, he said.

“PowerNet is investigating several options to improve the reliability of Ōtātara’s power supply. Mr. Buckingham suggested a solution. PowerNet has considered this particular solution with others,” Franklin said.