The power grid: running this country on Blu-Tack and paperclips

The power grid: running this country on Blu-Tack and paperclips

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Are we running this country on Blu-Tack and paperclips?

(Photo / File)

Are we running this country on Blu-Tack and paperclips?

We almost had power cuts again this morning and apparently we need to get used to it because this is just the way our winters are going to be from now on.

So what happened was that Transpower issued a grid emergency just before 8am warning that we might not have enough electricity to power the country.

Reporters were on the radio telling people to delay charging laptops and cell phones and consider turning off unnecessary lights.

Lines companies were turning ripple-controlled hot water systems in people’s homes.

Three things went wrong all at the same time: a gas turbine in Stratford failed to spark, one of Huntly’s turbines stopped working properly and the wind dropped which mean the wind farms stopped producing enough power.

This is close to a repeat of what happened last year when a bunch of things went wrong all at exactly the same time: some seaweed got stuck in a hydro pump, Huntly couldn’t fire up another generator fast enough and the wind dropped.

Last year, Megan Woods, the Energy Minister, tried to pretend it was a one-off.

But it doesn’t look like it is.

Transpower has warned that there are another 12 days left between now and early August where power could be at risk if only two big things go wrong.

That’s almost a quarter of the time.

The reason this is happening is because we don’t have enough capacity if things go wrong.

In the last seven years, both Contact and Mercury shut down some generation capacity: Contact at Otahuhu and Mercury at Southdown.

And now we’re cutting it fine.

Electricity consultant Murray Ellis reckons there isn’t enough extra capacity being built to change this.

So this is us this winter and next winter and next winter.

At this point you’re probably wondering what are we going to do about it?

Well so am I.  So I called Megan Woods’ office to ask if I sent them questions would they answer them in an hour and they said no.

So I don’t know what we’re going to do about it.

But neither do they by the looks of things.

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