Outage cables to be tested for cause

Charred cables from one of Alpine Energy 's oldest substations will be tested to find the cause of the district-wide power cut. Tuesday's outage left more than 20,000 South Canterbury people fending for themselves,

Cables to be tested to find out cause of outage

Charred cables from one of Alpine Energy 's oldest substations will be tested to find the cause of the district-wide power cut.

Tuesday's outage left more than 20,000 South Canterbury people fending for themselves, unable to use toasters, jugs, lights or electric razors.
About 5am there was an explosion at the back of one of 17 feeder units in the Timaru substation on Old North Rd.
Alpine Energy chief executive Andrew Tombs said the cause of the fault was unknown. The current running through the unit jumped from about 100 amps to about 20,000 amps. "If you had been standing near there you probably would have felt something through your shoes," he said.
Repairs – and the return of power – were delayed till toxic smoke was cleared from the building.
Two of three cables running to Washdyke were affected by the fault, which delayed the return of power to the industrial area.
Mr Tombs said it was unknown why the fault occurred when the load should have been low.
"There's nothing obvious that any of us can point our fingers at as to where it faulted."
The two damaged cables that ran into the back of the feeder cabinet would be sent to the manufacturer for testing, he said.
From April 1 to the end of last month there have been 75 power cuts, though Mr Tombs said that was under the target Alpine set. Most were caused by a third party digging up cables.
It did not mean the end was nigh for the region's electricity infrastructure, he added.
"The assets are still strong and still have a lot of life left in them.
"There's no doubt that there are pockets of our network that are coming towards the end of their life, but we haven't gone beyond that point of no return."
Mr Tombs said Alpine had more than doubled its expenditure, to about $20 million, to replace and upgrade the ageing assets, many within five years.