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Earthquake building programme hits one third mark

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington Electricity CEO Greg Skelton says the electricity distributor is a third of the way through strengthening its 91 sub-stations around the Wellington region against earthquake damage.

The three-year Earthquake Readiness programme consists of five workstreams to improve the electricity network’s ability to cope with a major earthquake.

Mr Skelton said: "I am pleased to announce that we have now completed reinforcements to 30 of the Wellington network’s 91 electricity sub-stations and with work underway on the next 16.

In addition to seismic strengthening of all of our sub-stations in Wellington, Hutt Valley, and Porirua, we are also purchasing mobile sub-stations and additional back-up equipment, improving our phone, radio communication systems, and upgrading our information systems.

Wellington’s roading network has the potential to suffer damage and effectively create up to five islanded regions because of a big earthquake," Mr Skelton said. "Access for our field crews will be extremely difficult. This work allows us to better deal with this possibility.

Without doing any infrastructure improvement some areas of our network, following a large earthquake, would potentially be without power for up to 90 days. Our Earthquake Readiness programme will reduce that time. The reinforcements we are making to these sub-stations vary depending on their size."

"Some sub-stations are the size of a garage and larger sub-stations are as big as a house," he says. "In all cases we work with civil and structural engineers."

As an example, the Kenepuru sub-station is one of the larger sub-stations that provides electricity to more than one suburb and supports key infrastructure like Kenepuru Hospital.

The strengthening programme is focussed on the buildings themselves. Equipment inside the buildings has already been upgraded.

It has been standard practice to secure transformers and switchboards inside our sub-stations throughout Wellington, Hutt Valley and Porirua in recent years, so that work is already done," Mr Skelton says.

"The 2011 Canterbury and 2016 Kaikoura earthquakes highlighted how large earthquakes can occur in New Zealand and highlighted the importance of ‘lifeline’ utilities in Wellington being prepared and ready to cope with a large natural event."

You can also see a 60 second video about the work Wellington Electricity is doing so we can respond to the effects of an earthquake on our website http://smarterpower.welectricity.co.nz/resilience.html

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