Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Paying for the storms to come

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    Welli’s most likely trees would have already fallen down in your normal breezes.

    Exactly.

    Although some big-assed trees came down last Tuesday. The gum tree by the supermarket in Richmond Road, for instance, was apparently healthy. I wonder if the way the most extreme winds were very localised might also have been a factor.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Also, the predominant wind direction of the recent storm was not the more usual (for Auckland) nor-easterly, but a slightly northish westerly.. Putting stress on trees and stuff from non-usual directions seems to have brought down more trees and branches than usual for a storm of not-that-out-of-the-ordinary strength?

    Also, despite updates and improvements Vector's website and APP are still not giving me the info I want… I have never lost power, but have no hot-water… it’s not the end of the world and far less bothersome than what others are dealing with… I completely understand (and agree with) Vector’s placing this at a lower priority than loss of power…

    But a list of suburbs that have already had their hot water restored does not tell me that they know they have to fix mine… How about a list of ones not doen yet? No, that’s a secret.

    I have twice reported the lack of hot-water on the App… once it acknowledged me with a dot on the map, but that dot has disappeared now, and did not show up a second time… So do they know parts of GreenBay have no hot water or not? I can't figure it out from their publicly shared info?

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 885 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Katabatic like winds, thats mabe what you guys had going on, and that’s why there where pockets of localised tree damage. The wind was blowing down wards in some places.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4045 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Prevailing wind direction in Auckland is from the south west.

    Our trees were being battered from the west side in that storm. The leaves are noticeably more stripped on the west side of the trees. Cannot believe they are still standing tbh.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Simon Wilson on the ins and outs of undergrounding.

    [Vector CEO Simon Mackenzie] says undergrounding costs from four to 10 times as much as running the cables above ground. Vector's rough estimate is that to put all remaining cables underground, just within the urban limits, never mind about the west coast, Riverhead and all the other exposed rural areas, would cost about $3 billion.

    "That's equal to the entire value of our current asset," says Mackenzie.

    A question for Auckland, right there. What does this cost-averse city want to pay for a secure power supply?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19573 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I'm possibly still just elated at finally getting off the ancient paper-insulated copper in Point Chev

    I'm not even slightly kidding when I say that one of the big attractions of Aotearoa for me is the broadband. Here in Sydney our "transition to the NBN" will involve keeping out cable internet but being able to choose providers. Based on my experience of that with ADSL, we will stick with Telstra because when we swapped ADSL away from them our speeds halved.

    I can also plot recent rainfall here by download speeds. No rain = 80MBits, 5-10mm in 24 hours = 70Mbits ... and on down to more than 50mm, 50MBits. Upload... in theory we get 10MBits, or maybe 40, but in practice 2-3MBits on a good day.

    I have friends over there that whine when their gigabit cable connection only delivers 500MBits. And they're paying so much for it... about 10% more than I pay for what I get.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1129 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Sacha,

    It’s the problem with hindsight- every system is at the mercy of innumerable risks, trying to protect from them all would make the service prohibitively expensive.

    People have to make choices and sometimes they’ll get it wrong because the future is complex.

    But the desire to blame individuals is strong – otherwise we’d have to acknowledge we have less control than we like to believe.

    Since Nov 2016 • 263 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    And yet again Vector is blaming the customer's trees for the problems.

    And yes it will cost $3 billion to underground now.

    But that cost only exists because of mismanagement for the last two decades.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Neil,

    It’s the problem with hindsight

    WTF. It's been known for decades that undergrounding protects the lines and reduces maintenance costs and reduces road accidents.

    It's not hindsight, it's an utter failure of management.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    "Hindsight" only in the sense that the current risk of extreme wind events in Auckland is higher than what would have been estimated 20 years ago.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1834 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    The risk of cyclonic weather events in Auckland has been known about since people started growing coffee in Whangarei.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4045 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    We have trees come down all the time in Dunedin, the power goes out, it comes back - our big trouble is that the council has pulled so much money out of the local lines company that they've not been able to do routine maintenance ... now power polls are blowing down on their own. Luckily for us when they installed fibre Chorus refused to climb the poles in my street and they were all replaced

    But in general trees come down regularly, not all at once, as Auckland starts to have periodic strong winds like the rest of us you probably will stop seeing large outages like this, instead you'll see the occasional tree come down each time it blows as they age

    PS: where does one get the money to underground 1/3 of your power lines, asking for another town ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2590 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    N.B. there is a difference between knowing there is some risk,
    and knowing how large that risk is (with an accurately-assigned probability).
    In the former sense, the risk has long been known.
    In the latter sense, the risk has increased (and may be expected to increase further, something that was not generally well-understood 20 years ago).

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1834 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to linger,

    something that was not generally well-understood 20 years ago

    I agree, with respect to the risk from weather. Although I'd note that climate change and its effect on extreme weather events was well known 20 years ago - it was however loudly denied.

    But that doesn't alter the discussion with respect to cars hitting power poles, or maintenance/replacement costs associated with over ground lines.

    The idea that cities should move infrastructure underground has been around longer than 20 years.

    Vector's reluctance to push undergrounding has had much more to do with giving the appearance of making a profit than with providing the best possible infrastructure for the city.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • Dean Wallis,

    Great post and excellent comments.

    Regarding the failures of successive local governments to address this and the other issues mentioned, you would have to accept some of the blame can be laid at the voters who put these people in power. If we weren't all collectively greedy, narrow minded and unwilling to take a financial hit to improve things, we may not be having this discussion. We continually seem to have a leadership problem - as in we are more likely to select someone based on factors unrelated to their abilities.

    You can't blame Trump (as an example) for his behaviour, but you can hunt down those who voted for him...

    Point Chevalier • Since Jan 2013 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    I’m not entirely convinced about the argument that cars hitting power poles is a negative. OK obvs not great for the occupants of the car but if the pole is removed what will the vehicle hit instead?

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11977418

    Since Mar 2010 • 372 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to william blake,

    but if the pole is removed what will the vehicle hit instead?

    To put it bluntly: generally something with a much more defined and narrow impact. Car vs pole affects dozens of people at a minimum, but it can be hundreds or even thousands.
    Car vs house affects a family, usually. Yes, the magnitude of the effect can, from time to time, but a lot greater, but cars hitting things other than poles happens quite a lot and fatalities are infrequent. The worst-case hypothetical of the homeowner in that story (who, I believe, was breaking the law with his blocks) was just that: hypothetical, and worst-case.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to william blake,

    if the pole is removed what will the vehicle hit instead?

    Based on the state of our local corner shop right now, they'll hit any old thing. Someone managed to swerve around a slight jink in the road, ignoring the four-way compulsory stop, and somehow swing through 180 degrees and end up going the opposite direction with enough force to shunt a large fridge a couple of metres across the shop... after going through a brick wall. Apparently no-one was hurt, which shocked me given the state of the setup after the incident.

    I sympathise with the four tonne concrete block man. I'd happily put a couple as traffic islands in my street.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1129 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    There isn’t a lot of talk about the Waitakeres in all this, but as a resident of the area it seems to me the power situation out on the Eastern slopes of the Waitakeres is dire. The whole area seems to be a classic example of our addiction since the 1980s to the cult of the free market absolving anyone of any responsibility for doing any planning whatsoever. The 12km loop up West Coast road towards Scenic Drive and down Forrest Hill road along with all the feeder roads is nowadays no longer bush. It is a large, very bushy suburb with many hundreds (or thousands) of houses nestled in the rather lovely forest. Power cuts plague the area – anything worse than routine bad weather causes outages from trees falling or cars crashing. Yet the lack of infrastructure is ridiculous. Why it should be so hard to underground the power lines in this area is beyond me; the diggers would be working largely in clay and would be untroubled by the complications caused by the presence of footpaths, sewage pipes or fibre cables.

    It seems to me the main reason there is no underground power (and sewage and fibre broadband) for this area is simply parsimonious under-investment by people who haven’t updated their thinking from when the Waitakeres were still wild.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2202 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Seriously where the fuck does National find these people in 2018?

    At least the reporter was savvy enough to work this simple fact out: "If Labour manages to wrest the seat off National, it'll gain a seat in Parliament and National will lose one." - unlike the reporting on 'Labour's fall in the polls' which really failed to properly acknowledge that 'the Government' had gained.
    Sigh...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7771 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    She was about to go and have a hot shower, with most of Piha’s power having come back on about half an hour before...

    Wouldn't be surprised if they also used their ripple control of Hot Water cylinders to reduce load - like Orion does

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7771 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Talking about Investing in electricity transmission (overhead or underground) doesn’t reach peak usefulness, without thinking about the tesla battery familys et al.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4045 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    ....now power polls are blowing down on their own (in Dunedin)

    Is this still a factor?:
    https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/342449/otago-power-pole-replacement-creating-more-of-a-danger

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7771 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Dean Wallis,


    The season of the Witch(hunt)

    (Trump) ...but you can hunt down those who voted for him…

    Are they in season, and is there a bag limit?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7771 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    Geology club this month was three talks about the science going into the Auckland Council from the volcanologists. The general consensus was to run away if a volcano starts to blow; there may be four weeks notice or six hours. Interestingly the models show most Aucklanders heading North to escape not South, which has not so many and poor roads. Northland won’t have power for years if there is a big eruption as there is only one cable, so head South.

    One of the speakers was finishing her Phd in putting infrastructure underground in a volcanic area, using Hawaii as a live resource and the Sydney art school to melt basalt for some cool experiments. The research isn’t finished but power could be compromised by cooking the wires or lead to a total loss of power with metres of volcanic reef over the wires. Water and sewage fail when plastic or rubber components melt and a small risk of scalding when running taps. Hawaii did not lose power in the 2016 eruptions because they have power poles.

    Undergrounding in the Waitakeres makes sense lotsa trees and it's not part of the volcanic field but for the lowlanders concrete poles and rubber cars might be better.

    http://www.devora.org.nz/

    Since Mar 2010 • 372 posts Report Reply

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