Emergency ready

Tuesday, August 16, 2022
The team at Powerco's Network Operations Centre (NOC) have demonstrated they are well-prepared should an emergency force them to evacuate.

Based in New Plymouth, NOC is the nerve centre of Powerco’s electricity network. While not visible in the field up power poles, our 24/7 network operations team are critical in keeping the lights on by overseeing the flow of electricity across the network. They also ensure our field crews are kept safe by switching the power off while they’re working on the network, as well as being the first point of contact for gas faults or emergencies.

To test the NOC team’s readiness should the building become inoperable for any reason, an emergency exercise was held on 15 August, with a fire alarm sounding and NOC evacuated.

Both the Control Coordination and the Customer Outage teams shifted to Powerco’s disaster recovery site, which is located several kilometres away in the New Plymouth suburb of Bell Block.

The teams worked from the disaster recovery site for the remainder of their shift, as did the overnight shift. The teams returned to NOC the next morning to resume normal operations.

Network Emergency and Performance Advisor Chris Albers says the NOC team responded well, given they had no prior warning the exercise was going to take place.

“We didn’t tell the teams in advance that we were conducting an exercise because we wanted the scenario to run as close to real-life as possible,” he says.

“Everyone responded incredibly well. The Control team worked to make sure everyone out on the network was safe before evacuating the building and leaving for Bell Block. 

“It took us just over 20 minutes from when the fire alarm went off, to having the team up and running out of the Bell Block site – a fantastic result.”

Transpower, the operator of the national electricity grid, and Powerco field services provider, Downer, were notified of the exercise as part of the relocation procedure. 

Chris Albers says the speed with which the Bell Block site was brought up to full operational control was commended by Transpower operations. 

While impressed with the overall performance, Chris Albers says there is always areas to work on.

“It highlighted the need to ensure our fire wardens are supported and well-prepared. We also have a really useful checklist to guide what we need to do during an event like this, we just used it a bit late in the process.”

For more information about NOC, click here.

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