Power going underground in national park

Friday, December 21, 2018

The overhead electricity supply from the edge of the Egmont National Park to the Stratford Mountain House is to be put under ground early next year.

Removal of the poles and cable by electricity distributor, Powerco, is designed to enhance the aesthetics of the park and bolster the security of supply on the eastern slopes during storms and heavy snow falls.

General Manager of Service Delivery and Systems Operations, Ian Skipworth, said the project was a result of extensive discussions between Powerco, the Department of Conservation (DOC), the Stratford District Council, Ngati Ruanui (the Stratford Mountain House owner) and the Stratford Mountain club (the Manganui ski field operator).

“There were a number of reasons why we chose to put the cable underground,” he said.

“The 4.4km of line was due for a complete rebuild, the annual tree trimming along the existing route is costly and intrusive, winter snow storms exposed the lines to undue risk and DOC is keen to have all overhead lines removed in national parks.”

The mountain house and mountain club were the two main users of power with Airways NZ, Vodafone, Spark, Team Talk Ltd and Two Degrees all operating key communication equipment at high altitude.

Taranaki firm Drillco would install the cable for the main project contractor, Obertech.

“A start is planned for January 7 and it should be completed by the end of March,” Skipworth said.

The 66 old poles and 4km of overhead conductor would be removed once the new cable was in operation.

DOC’s senior ranger in New Plymouth, Dave Rogers,  said it was pleasing the last overhead power lines within the Egmont National Park were being removed.

The park’s management plan required any new power line or any major renewal of line, to be placed on or beneath the ground to minimise the visual impact and maintenance requirements.

“This initiative will see an end to the unwelcomed power disruptions from trees across the lines, snow build up collapsing lines and windblown debris damaging the lines,” he said.

The project was the second of two planned infrastructure upgrades in the area.

“We have just completed an extensive pole and cross arm replacement programme on nearby Cardiff Rd which will add resilience to the network there.”

Local contractor, Linepower, hosted a barbeque for residents affected by the work to recognize the inconvenience of the planned outages while the work was completed.

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