Ongoing careless incidents around electricity has prompted Northland lines companies, Northpower and Top Energy, to launch a winter public safety campaign in the hope of keeping their communities safe.
Many of the incidents, including people hitting live powerlines with machinery, could have resulted in serious injury or death.
Over the past five years, Northpower has recorded over 460 known incidents where damage has been caused to its electricity network resulting in power outages. However, the company says it is not always made aware of incidents – a challenge shared by Top Energy, the Far North’s electricity lines company which has recorded 530 third party interference incidents on its electricity network in the same period.
Northpower Network General Manager Josie Boyd says more than 100 of the incidents in Kaipara and Whangarei Districts involved vehicles or machinery damaging the network, usually hitting power poles, taking out overhead lines or digging through underground cables - while over 300 involved trees striking powerlines or power poles.
Top Energy has recorded 100 car versus pole incidents, 60 events where third parties have damaged the network, and 370 tree events causing interruption to electricity supply.
“The message we want to get out there is for people to take a good look around them and be really careful because we don’t want people getting hurt,” says Mrs Boyd.
Before you excavate or move loads around lines please call our Fault line for advice – as it is not worth taking a risk around electricity. And if you have to think “is it too close” it probably is.”
Russell Shaw, Top Energy’s Chief Executive shares similar concerns.
Mr Shaw says that despite safety campaigns encouraging people to contact their lines company for advice on ‘how close is too close’, people are still taking too many risks - like putting containers, buildings and other structures too close to powerlines.
“Like Northpower, our concern is that someone will get electrocuted by getting too close to powerlines - or by accidentally making contact with them - and that’s why we are putting so much effort into helping educate people about working safely around electricity,” says Mr Shaw.
Separately, Northpower and Top Energy are continuing to collaborate with the Northland forestry sector on safety measures around powerlines.