INDEPENDENT NEWS

Coromandel Power Cuts Could Ruin Christmas Cheer

Published: Fri 22 Dec 2000 03:36 PM
Power Cuts In Coromandel Could Ruin Christmas Cheer
Coromandel Green MP Jeanette Fitzsimons wants a guarantee from her local electricity lines company to reimburse any losses suffered by Coromandel businesses from power cuts over the holiday period.
She also wants them to put on more staff to deal with customer inquiries in the event of power cuts.
"Whangamata retailers such as butchers and cafes have already lost stocks and equipment because of frequent power cuts and surges, said Ms Fitzsimons. "Last Christmas take-away bars and restaurants were without power for five hours on one of their busiest nights of the year."
"My constituents have told me that the situation is getting worse, with more frequent and longer power cuts. That's Third World standards here in New Zealand, and no-one in the power company wants to know."
Whangamata's population is expected to rise from 4,500 to around 55,000 with the influx of holiday makers.
"The Christmas rush puts great stress on Coromandel's creaking infrastructure - but it also allows local businesses to make the money which keeps them going for the rest of the year when it's quieter. If the lights and ovens go out for even some of that time, then the community will suffer major financial hardship."
Ms Fitzsimons said she had written to United Networks expressing her concern, and was surprised at their response that the number of power cuts were "not excessive" for a rural area.
"I have documentation that shows 33 power cuts in the last 13 months for one road in Whangamata, with 9 cuts in the week over Christmas. That definitely sounds excessive to me."
Ms Fitzsimons said she believed a lack of maintenance on the lines and sub-stations was to blame for the power crisis.
"This is one example of deregulation of the industry without adequate supervision for the lines companies, which are a monopoly - and in this case an overseas-owned monopoly.
"Neither the power supply company which holds contracts with customers nor the lines company which controls the lines, will take responsibility for the lack of service. I am determined that the new electricity legislation will sort this out in the New Year."

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