Connecting communities through cyclone Fili

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Despite the severe wind warnings for the Coromandel, western Bay of Plenty and Taranaki electricity networks earlier this week, ex-tropical cyclone Fili left Powerco’s network relatively unscathed.

As the weather tracked further to the east than first forecast, at its height Wednesday morning there were 1,073 Powerco customers without power, mainly in the western Bay of Plenty.

While Fili didn’t damage the electricity network as much as Powerco first anticipated, it was a great opportunity to put learnings from Cyclone Dovi into practice. 

When weather forecasting and strong wind warnings first came in, Powerco initiated its CIMS (Coordinated Incident Management System) structure, a nationally recognised framework for managing incidents such as storm events, tsunamis, earthquakes, and other Civil Defence-type emergencies.

Powerco Network Operations Manager Scott Horniblow was the CIMS controller for the storm event, based at Powerco’s Network Operations Centre (NOC) at the Junction St, New Plymouth office, with a second base at Bell Block also ready to operate.

“It was great to see all areas of the business swing into action to assist us in planning and supporting the first CIMS structured approach since Dovi.

“There are already lessons learnt from this first exercise and, as a business, the more we embark on this process, the easier it will be to not only deal with the situation at hand but to keep our customers and stakeholders informed.”

Alongside the control room, Powerco’s Customer Services (Dispatch) had a full crew from Wednesday, with field crews on standby in the anticipated fault areas, along with tier two contractors, traffic management and tree contractors in the eastern region.

The CIMS team met prior to and during the event, to plan what was required to get power back on efficiently and safely, and keep customers informed by providing information via Powerco’s website, social media, news media and key customer stakeholder channels. 

Crews restoring power in Welcome Bay, Tauranga after a dead tree fell through two spans of conductor and a cross arm in the strong winds, cutting power to 356 customers.

Crews carrying out repairs

Latest media releases