Frequently Asked Questions

From time to time The Lines Company rolls out new projects that may generate questions from our customers. This is the place to find answers to those common questions when changes arise or new initiatives are announced.

What's happening with weekend load controlling?

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TLC is making a change to weekend load control peaks that will mean any weekend peaks created by our Standard User and Low Fixed Charge Plan users (which includes all our residential customers) will not contribute to their 2018 kilowatt load reset if the current pricing approach continues.

This change starts now and will cover weekend load control periods from 1 October 2016 to 30 September 2017.

Remember:

  • this applies only if the current pricing approach continues beyond 1 April 2018
  • TLC may still need to load control during the weekends
  • The capacity calculation is not affected by the weekend change.  As always, we encourage customers to continue to manage their anytime maximum demand.

Which customers does this change to weekend load controlling apply to?

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The weekend load control change applies to TLC’s Standard User and Low Fixed Charge Plan users, which means all our residential customers, including holiday homes.  It does not apply to customers on the Major User Pricing Plan.

What does this change to weekend load controlling mean for me?

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It means that if the current pricing approach continues beyond next April (2018) any peaks you create during weekend load control periods do not count towards your annual kilowatt load reset calculation

What is capacity or anytime maximum demand?  Why is it not affected?

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Capacity and the fixed network charge are not included in the change. The change is only about the variable kW load charge during periods of weekend load control.

Customers still need to manage their Anytime Maximum Demand (which can be used to determine capacity)
 

When will this change to weekend load controlling show up on my bill or invoice?

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Your next invoice won’t show any difference since the change only counts towards 2018’s load reset, and then only if there is no change to the current pricing review.

What about the weekend peaks that I have already created this winter?

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The change applies to any weekend load control peaks created between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017, thus will cover any peaks already created this winter.

Why has TLC decided to change weekend load control now?

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When speaking to the community about the Pricing Review we received constructive feedback on the particular challenges people face when we load control on weekends.   While the review is in its final stages there is an opportunity to make some change immediately.

The change to weekend load control is not a change to the overall pricing system.  It is a one-off change that only applies to weekends from now to 30 September 2017, and covers weekend load control periods from 1 October 2016 to 30 September 2017.

Will TLC still load control on weekends?

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Yes, TLC may still need to load control during the weekends but the peaks created by customers on these plans will not count to their 2018 load reset if the current pricing approach continues.  Any weekend load controlling will be done to manage our network.

What are the weekend load control hours?

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12.01am Saturday (12:00:00) through to 11.59pm Sunday (11:59:59)

Are the new meters smart meters?

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Your new meter is an electronic meter that can be programmed to record usage

When will the new meters have communications?

close The meters that have been installed since September 2013 have communication capability. The communications part of the meter will start up shortly after they have been installed. This may not be possible in every case if there is little/no cell phone coverage.

Are the new meters safe?

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The options for communications is cell phone signal (GPRS). The Ministry of Health say they anticipate no adverse health effects from Smart Meters. They say:

“… typically the exposures to you from a smart meter are only a few per cent of the public limit recommended in New Zealand and prescribed by the international standards. Exposures are low for four main reasons:

  • the low power of the smart meter’s transmitter, which at most operate at only a few watts.
  • they are typically located in low occupancy areas such as on the outside wall of the house.
  • there is a rapid decrease in signal strength with increasing distance from the smart meter.
  • they only transmit occasionally and for short periods. Typically, a smart meter will only be transmitting in total for a few minutes per day.”

 

For further information go to 

Will my new meter still be manually read?

close The communications system allow the meter to be read remotely (where possible). Your retailer may still wish for your meter to be read manually.

What will happen to the data from my new meter?

close The Lines Company is a community owned organisation and takes data privacy very seriously. The storage and use of your meter data will continue to comply strictly with New Zealand’s Privacy legislation guidelines.

How will my kW load charge be calculated on my new meter?

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Your new meter is able to internally calculate kW load. The kW load from the data is calculated as the average of your six highest two hour blocks over the year when there has been a period of load control. For more information on how TLC calculates your kW load please check our Billling section  or call us on 0800 367 546 Option 1

Why are my meters being changed?

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Most meters in the local area that are not already time of use meters are being replaced now. We are working on replacing existing meters with EDMI time-of-use meters. This is because we are moving to time-of-use pricing methodology on 1 October 2018. There are also a few other reasons:
 
  • Local people have asked for meters that record load so that TLC can charge on the basis of specific information about power use at their home and business. The Lines Company agrees this is a fairer approach and is eager to install them throughout the area as soon as practicable.
  • Recording load is not the only reason. Electricity meters need to be re-certified or replaced at regular intervals to ensure they remain accurate and compliant. Many meters in New Zealand were due for review in 2015.
  • In The Lines Company area there are also We have approximately 7,000 relays due to be replaced soon. The new meters has a built-in relay and it is more cost effective to replace the relay with a new the meter, than replace some relays now, only to replace the meter later.

How can I tell on my new meter if you are load controlling?

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The new meters have two small red lights on the front labelled Pulse 1 and Pulse 2. Pulse 2 flashes when we are load controlling. You can keep your load down by switching off unnecessary appliances when Pulse 2 is flashing.

Is there a way to tell if TLC are load controlling other than looking at my meter?

close The Lines Company’s free mobile app can be downloaded from The Lines Company’s website, the Apple App store or the Google Play store. The app includes optional audible notifications for Load Control Alerting for your GXP area, Fault Information, Planned Outages, along with an interactive map. There is also a map control indicator map on our website homepage which is an indicator of load control in your local area. www.thelinescompany.co.nz

How do you know the new meters will work properly?

close The meters are from a supplier that has deployed over 5 million meters worldwide. The meters chosen by TLC were tested in a trial project in 2012 and we are confident these new meters work correctly. However, please let us know immediately if you suspect there is an issue with your meter.

Will the kW load portion of my bill go up?

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For a period of time after your meter is installed you will be charged on the lower of your calculated metered kW load and your ‘profile’ kW load, so the meter itself will not cause your kW load charge to go up. .

Your load is influenced by things like:

  • What type of hot water heating you have and whether it is connected to the relay.
  • When you use the most power.
  • Whether you are using a lot of power during periods of load control.

When I get my new meter will the bill from my retailer go up?

close There have been over one million Advanced or Smart meters installed in New Zealand already. The Electricity Authority, say that power prices should not go up as a result of meter installation. They also note there have been some cases where the existing traditional meter had deteriorated and had been under-recording electricity use. In these cases people have been under-charged for power in the past and will pay more – their true fair share – in the future.

I just got a new meter in the last two years why do I need a new meter?

close Then the main reason your meter is being replaced is not due to compliance but rather so you can receive a meter that is able to be read remotely and can calculate kW load internally.

Who can I talk to about my new meter?

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For more information please email queries@thelines.co.nz

For all enquiries please phone 0800 367 546 – Option 1

How do I read my new meter?

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The screen scrolls over every 6 seconds;

 

They generally show the following, but there are variations depending on the meters program;

 

00000000 Test pattern

1 - 24 24hour -Total kWh consumption ( total of night and day)

2 - dy Day - kWh used from 6:00am to midnight

3 - nt Night - kWh used from midnight to 6:am

4 Ldn Load level now - your total load at the moment

5 LdC Load level current year - your load level for the current years' load charge

6 LdL Load level last year - your load level for the previous years' load charge

dLS Time

dLS Date

sIG Signal strength of the GPRS modem

 

If you need further help to read your meter, please call us on0800 367 546

Does the Network Performance App work on all phones and tablets?

close The App is built to work on Apple products operating on iOS 8 and above and Android products running software version 4.3 and above. It will not work on a smart phone that runs a windows operating system. The App will work on iPads and Samsung tablets.
When using the Network Performance App do I have to put in my Installation Control Point (ICP)?
close Registering an ICP is required to get the App to work. You can find your ICP number on the front page of your TLC invoice or on your energy retailer invoice.
When using the Network Performance App can I add more than one ICP?
close Yes you can add multiple ICPs. You can also add ICPs from different Grid Exit Point (GXP) regions.
What if my ICP does not register on the Network Performance App?
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Please ensure your cell phone has mobile data network coverage and can access the internet. This is a requirement for registration and use of the mobile App. There may be occasions when TLC will need to update new ICPs that are added to the network. If you cannot register your ICP please email queries@thelines.co.nz with your ICP and we will arrange this for you.

How do I get the first information screen on the Network Performance App to disappear?
close Tap or swipe the screen, depending on your device.
Is the Network Performance App connected to the relay in my meter?
close The App is not connected to your meter. It indicates load control by GXP region. There may be times when your area of the map is indicating load control but your relay has not been affected.

What are planned outages?

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Planned outages is the name given to outages the TLC have scheduled so that equipment maintenance can be done safely. If you have registered an ICP in the App and chosen to receive alertsalters, you will get notifications when there are planned outages affecting your ICP.

What are faults?

close Faults are unplanned power outages and can happen at any time. Causes of faults can include vehicles hitting power poles, storms, trees contacting lines or equipment failures.
What should I do if my power is off but no fault is showing for my area on the map?
close Call our 24 hour fault line on 0800 367 328.

What number do I call if I want to speak to someone about my bill or get some load management advice?

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Call our Customer Team on 0800 367 546 and choose 'option 1'. The Customer Team are available Monday - Friday 8am, - 5pm and Wednesdays 8am - 4pm.

I can’t get the App to download/work. Who should I ask for help?
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Please call our Customer Team or email us at queries@thelines.co.nz. Describe what the problem is, what type of device you have, and your best contact details. Someone will get back in touch with you between Monday-Friday.

What is time-of-use (TOU)

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'Time-of-use' pricing means prices vary according to when electricity is used. You pay a lower price for using electricity at off-peak times and a higher price for using it in the morning and evening peaks when electricity use is heavy. The hours below are yet to be confirmed. Below are the hours being used in the TOU trial.

 

TOU Pricing Periods

 

Times

 

Peak or Controlled Peak

 

7:00 am to 9:30 am

 

5:30 pm to 8:00 pm

 

Shoulder

 

9:30 am to 5:30 pm

 

8:00 pm to 11:00 pm

 

Off Peak

 

11:00 pm to 7:00 am

When will we move to TOU pricing?

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Last year we began an independent review of the way in which we charge our customers. This review was prompted by customer feedback - stating that customers wanted a simple, fair and transparent pricing system. The review also included consultation with customers, stakeholders and experts. Through this process it was recommended that we consider moving to TOU for the following reasons:
 
  • It is easier to understand
  • Customers can influence their bill in a shorter timeframe which is monthly (not the usual 12 month deferment)
  • TOU gives you flexibility.
  • If you use more electricity one month, it will only impact your next bill - not your bills for the entire year.
Why are you moving to TOU in October?
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There are a number of reasons why October has been chosen. The main reason is that we have always said - make this change once and do it right. Moving to TOU in October gives us the time to get it right for our customers. This means:
 
  • we have time to help our customers understand and get ready for the change
  • our staff will be better equipped to answer your questions

Will a kW Load reset happen in April 2018?

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Yes it does. Our normal annual reset will be communicated to customers at the end of February 2018 and comes into effect 1 April 2018. The reset will only apply for six months - April 2018 to 30 September 2018, before new TOU prices come into effect in October 2018.

Will Low Fixed Charge and Standard rates still be available with TOU?

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Yes - the same criteria applies.
Residential Low Fixed Charge is only available to customers in their primary place of residence (home) and use less than 8000 kWh per annum.
Residential Standard is only available to customers in their primary place of residence (home) and is for those who use more than 8000 kWh per annum.

What pricing plan will holiday homes be on under TOU?

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Based on the trial TOU prices holiday homes would be charged on the General pricing plan.

What pricing plan will vacant properties be on under TOU?

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Based on the trial TOU prices vacant properties would be charged on the General pricing plan.

Why are you updating Meters?

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From 1 October 2018 we’re changing the way we charge our customers. In preparation we need to change the way your existing meter records energy use.

From 1 October, we will need to record when you use electricity during peak, shoulder and off-peak times.  This requires us to make a software change to your existing smart meter. 

 

Is there a charge for this meter update?

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No, there is no charge for the update to your meter.

When will this change happen?

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We will begin updating meters from 3 April and will continue updating meters until the end of August. 

If your property requires a site visit your meter will be updated as a part of your retailers meter reading schedule.
 

How do you update my meter remotely?

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Updating your meter remotely is done in the same way we can read your meter remotely.  It is done ‘over the air’. If we can communicate with your meter remotely it is likely we can update the meter in the same way.

 

 

Do I need to let you know that it’s ok to update my meter?

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We do not require your permission to make this change.  As per our standard terms of service, we are required to give you written notice of this change.

You mention about peak, shoulder and off-peak prices.  Can you please tell me what these prices are?

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The new prices have not been confirmed.  We expect to let customers know the new prices in July.  

My neighbour got a letter saying that their meter is going to be updated but I haven’t. What is going on?

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Meter updates are only available to those customers who have the most recent Smart Meters.  If you are interested in getting your meter upgraded, please call us on 0800 367 546.

Will the meter update affect my bill?

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No it won’t.  You would have recently received your reset letter which outlines your charges from 1 April – 30 September.  

What happens to my usage/demand data?

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We will download and store the existing information from your meter before it is updated.  We will also share this information with your retailer.

Can I book in a time?

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We are unable to book a time for your meter to be updated. 

If your meter can be read remotely it is likely that we will also be able to update your meter remotely also.  If your property requires a site visit, this visit will happen during your retailers normal meter reader visit at the usual date/time.  The update will happen at the same time that they read your meter.

Can you tell me exactly when this change is going to happen?

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Unfortunately we cannot give you can exact time.  

How will I know if my meter has been updated?

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Once the update has been completed the meter will reset to zero. The display on your meter will also have changed, click here to see what your meter will now display.

What will my meter look like once the update has happened?

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Click here to see photos of what your meter will look like once updated.

If a meter reader has to visit my property what will they be doing for 10 minutes?

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The update takes approximately 10 minutes per meter.  During this time the meter reader will be watching the meter to ensure the update progresses and completes successfully.

Will the update affect my retailer reading my meter?

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Your retailers meter reader will still be able to read your meter in the usual way.  Before we update your meter we will download the information already on your meter and this will be given to your retailer.

Who is my usual meter reader?

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If you are with KCE or Trust Power your meter is read by KCE meter readers.  All other retailers’ meters are read by WELLS.

What if I don’t want my meter updated?

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We encourage you to have your meter updated. By having your meter updated it means when our new pricing comes into effect on 1 October 2018 we will be able to offer you peak, shoulder and off-peak prices.  This means you pay different prices at different times of the day.  

If you do not want to have your meter updated from 1 October we will charge you a flat rate, and you will be unable to take advantage of the different prices available at the different times of the day.

If you decide not to have your meter updated, but change your mind at a later date we cannot guarantee an update will occur before 1 October. You may also incur a charge if you decide to have you meter updated at a later date.
 

What’s the project about and what will TLC be doing?

 

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Over the next several months we’ll be replacing power poles and cross-arms in Otorohanga as part of the $5.9M we ear-marked in our Asset Management Plan (AMP) for 11kV, 33kV and low voltage (LV) line renewals across the network this financial year.   Line renewal work equates to around 33% of the $18M TLC expects to invest in the network over the coming year.

The Otorohanga work will increase overall security and reliability of Otorohanga’s power supply, and that of the wider network.
 

Where and what does the work involve?

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The work is in stages and involves progressively replacing power poles and cross-arms in given parts of two areas of Otorohanga.  The first stage is areas both sides of Main North Road (SH3) from around Harpers Ave through to Blucks Road. 

The second stage is in and around Otorohanga’s CBD; an area roughly west and south of Maniapoto Street.
 
To keep everyone safe, technicians will first isolate the power within a given section of the area being worked on before turning it off so the poles or cross-arms can be replaced safely.
For deliveries and to work on poles and lines as quickly as possible, sometimes we may ask residents not to park on the roadside to keep the shoulder clear.  We want to keep any road closures and parking restrictions to a minimum and those affected up-to-date of our activities.
 

When will lines crews be working on the lines?

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Stage One work (Harpers Ave and north) is scheduled from mid-June through to early July.   TLC expects its Northpower contractors to start work in this area from Thursday 14 June.  Stage Two work, i.e. in and around Otorohanga’s CBD, is scheduled from July through to November 2018.
Generally we’ll be working on the lines on weekdays between 8.00am and 5.00pm, though some weekend work may be required. 

Why is Northpower working on TLC lines?

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To work as quickly as possible we have brought in additional expert resources to supplement our own crews and capacity.   We have a long-standing working relationship with Northpower’s contracting division who have the accredited expertise to work on our network.  They will carry out the bulk of the work under TLC’s supervision.

Why does the power have to be switched off? 

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For safety reasons our TLC crews and contractors do not carry out ‘live line’ work.  The power needs to be shut off while working on the lines to make sure members of the public and those working on the lines are safe.  It means customers will experience supply interruptions while work is carried out. 

When will the power be off?

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Rather than power being off for everyone, power will be shut off only to those sections of the lines being worked on that day. Generally it will be shut off between 8.00am and 5.00pm, and in most cases for the whole of that period.

While we will try to keep supply interruptions to a minimum, over the period of the whole renewal project, i.e. July to November, individual residences and businesses should anticipate one to two full days without power. Depending on location some customers may experience more outages than others, and there may be instances where three or four full day outages are experienced.

As part of the line renewal we do not however expect that you will experience consecutive full day outages, i.e. one full day without power followed immediately by another day without supply.
 

How will I know when the power is to be shut off?

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This is maintenance work and planned outages.  This means we’ll send our usual notification to let you know when your power will be off.  In addition there will be information on our website and Facebook pages, and on Cruise FM.

Will there be an alternative power supply?

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While we can do our best to minimise the number and periods without power supply, we cannot provide an alternate supply to individual households or businesses or organisations, other than identified critical and emergency services, i.e. critical infrastructure (e.g. water) and those registered as medically dependent on electricity.

We encourage business owners and organisations to make suitable arrangements for their businesses and activities during those periods when supply is interrupted.  
 

It’s winter! Why does it need to happen now?

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Generally line maintenance work on rural parts of the network is scheduled to accommodate seasonal activities such as calving, lambing, the milking flush, and to minimise impacts on the environment when access becomes difficult due to heavy winter weather conditions. 

It is for these reasons that the line renewal work is being carried out in Otorohanga at this time.
 

How about doing this at night?

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For safety reasons line renewal work cannot be carried out during or throughout the night. 

What if there’s an emergency?

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We have spoken to all the local Otorohanga emergency services – police, fire, ambulance - about the line renewal programme.  They are aware of it and we will keep them up-to-date of our activities.   In an emergency they will have priority access to any area we are working in at that time. 

Why aren’t the lines being placed underground?

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Undergrounding lines is costly and for each section would require more than several months of significant and successive interruptions to power and other essential services such as water, waste water and telecommunications infrastructure.   The estimated cost of undergrounding is around three times that of renewing just the poles and cross-arms. 

What’s up, TLC has just done some street light work in Otorohanga?

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Some of the line renewal work intersects the recent installation of LED street lights in Otorohanga.  Where this occurs the LED lights will be transferred to the new replacement pole.

The project spans Mystery Creek Fieldays, ski season and school holidays…

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Clearly Otorohanga CBD businesses and the town will be affected by the line renewal work and the project does span events such as Fieldays, ski season and the school holidays.

We understand this will be inconvenient and to minimise impacts we plan to complete CBD-related work on Sundays which has been identified as the day when fewer businesses would be affected.

For CBD-related work we’ll give as much notice as we can. We’ll also mobilise all available TLC crews from across the network to complete it as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible.  This will however be dependent on there being no major issues elsewhere on the network at that time.

We’ll minimise the number and periods without power supply as best we can.  We can’t however provide an alternate supply to individual households or businesses or organisations. Critical and emergency services, i.e. critical infrastructure (e.g. water), those registered with us as medically dependent on electricity, and the emergency services will be supported. 

Others are encouraged to make suitable arrangements for their businesses and activities during those periods when supply is interrupted.  

In an emergency police, fire and ambulance will also have priority access to any area we are working in at that time.

Service stations will be able to provide fuel to locals and the travelling public.

I operate a business in or near the CBD, when will I get details about stage two of TLC’s Otorohanga line renewal work?

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The second stage or part of the line renewal work relies on the first part (Harpers Ave and north) being finished.  Once that’s complete more detailed scheduling of stage two can go ahead.

We are keen to keep people up-to-date of the project and will be able to provide you more specific details of what’s planned for the late July through to November period (stage two) closer to the time.

What happens if I lose business or close temporarily because of this work?

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To do the work safely we will need to shut off power supply at various times which is likely to affect businesses.  We cannot provide an alternate supply and are also not liable for any loss of trade or other business-related issue during those times when your particular supply is interrupted. 

We encourage you to be prepared and to make suitable arrangements for your business during those times.
 

Will my family be safe while the power is off and/or when technicians are working on lines near my property?

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Our TLC staff and Northpower contractors are fully qualified experts in this type of work.  They are also easily identifiable, however if you have a question about who is working on your lines please do not hesitate to call us on 0800 367 328. 

To keep everyone safe members of the public are asked to remember to stay clear of power lines, not enter any of the work areas, and to treat all lines as live at all times.
 

If my power goes out but I haven’t received a shutdown notice, who can I call to check if I am part of the shutdown?

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Please call our Faults Team on 0800 367 328 and they can check for you.

 

Will I get compensated for having to close my business for “X” number of hours?

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Unfortunately, no. We will give as much notice as possible to give you time to make alternative arrangements as we are not liable for any loss of profits or revenue. More information on this can be found in our Terms of Service.