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Investment targets power reliability

29 October 2018

Residents, businesses and farms around Mangakino and Whakamaru should have a more reliable power supply from early 2019.

The Lines Company (TLC) will move a transformer from the Borough substation in Taumarunui to Maraetai in the first quarter of next year. Currently there is only one transformer at Maraetai, leaving around 1,300 TLC customers vulnerable to power outages, particularly from unplanned events like storms.

General manager – network Mike Fox said the additional transformer is part of a wider upgrade at the substation to improve the security of supply and make the network more robust.

“At the moment there’s just one transformer there and if that’s taken out for planned maintenance or a fault, that takes power out for the wider community,” Fox said.

“Having a second transformer on site will make the Maraetai substation a lot more resilient and means that, if power does goes out because of a storm or some other unplanned event, we’ll be able to get it back on a lot faster.”

The Maraetai substation upgrade is included in TLC’s 10-year asset management plan (AMP) released in April this year. The AMP details plans by the company to increase capital expenditure by 50 per cent each year over the next decade.  While TLC is planning to support a projected 25 per cent jump in demand on the network, it also has a strong focus on looking after existing assets and improving reliability of supply, Fox said.

“Installing an extra transformer at Maraetai is just part of the work being done at that substation,” he said.

“TLC will also replace the switch gear which supplies power to homes and businesses.  Replacing this with modern, automated switch gear will allow us to restore power more quickly should there be an outage.  In the past, getting power back on has taken longer than we would like so the community will be happy to see this investment going in.”

The area serviced by the Maraetai substation was continuing to grow and also included a significant number of farms and dairy farm conversions, Fox said.  Given that, TLC has longer-term plans to look at a potential new substation in the area to further increase reliability.

“That work is in the planning stages at the moment. But by the end of March next year, we should have the additional transformer in place and will have done some more analysis and planning.”

Fox said the work planned at Maraetai would cost in the vicinity of $300,000 and had already been budgeted for. Over the next 10 years, TLC planned on investing around $20 million on maintaining and improving supply from key substations across its network.

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