COVID-19 Update – 23/2/2022
Update February 23 2022:
Our approach to working with Covid in our community
As the country continues in the Red Light Traffic system, and with the threat of increased numbers of Covid-19 cases within our community, our approach to maintaining critical electricity infrastructure and planned outages across our region is explained below.
As a south Auckland electricity distributor, we, along with our northern neighbour Vector, have been more impacted by Covid-19 than other distributors to date and as such, have deep experience on how best to manage. We chose to halt all non-essential works during the Level 4 (and for the majority of Level 3) in the Auckland lockdowns, to allow for our customers to work and school from home without planned outages for maintenance and capital works. We have suffered around six months of disruption to our works programme, including to our critical maintenance programme.
As the region’s 100 percent community owned lines company, our role is to ensure new homes and businesses can connect and there is enough capacity to meet the community’s needs. The region is experiencing huge growth, and we must maintain our network to supply safe and reliable power to our customers, while building new network to ensure we can power this growth while also increasing capacity for existing customer’s ever-increasing demand for energy with new technology and innovations.
As we face an increase of Covid-19 cases within our community, and within our workforce, we are working to our business continuity plan to ensure essential power supplies are maintained throughout our region. We will continue with all of our works programme, including planned outage works, assessing the situation daily within our region. At the point where we may have large numbers of Covid-19 cases within our community, or our workforce is impacted by Covid-19, we will halt all but essential works such as faults and safety work. Our workforce is highly vaccinated and well-practiced at working within all Ministry of Health guidelines at all times while working to keep our power flowing.
We must continue with our planned works programme for as long as possible as our region faces serious network reliability consequences and a major bottleneck of construction projects if we do not continue for as long as we can safely do so, while minimising disruption to our community, safeguarding our essential workers and ensuring critical power supplies are maintained at all times.
We are working to a comprehensive disruption mitigation procedure to minimise impact on customers as much as possible. Extensive planning has been undertaken to focus crews on work not requiring shutdowns as a priority, however there is a necessity for some essential works to be undertaken.
We appreciate and acknowledge that shutdowns are difficult for our customer’s affected who may be self-isolating at home, so we’re working hard to ensure we minimise disruption wherever possible and shutdown lengths are kept to an absolute minimum.
Our works program (including shutdowns) is currently continuing as planned, however as we are actively taking measures to ensure we have sufficient resource to cover our essential services around safety and fault response as our first priority, this may result in planned shutdown works being cancelled or delayed at short notice as we follow Ministry of Health guidelines relating to COVID 19. We’ll keep you up to date as much as we possibly can, and to provide as information as early as possible while this situation evolves.
Should we need to advise customers of any changes to their power or of a cancellation of planned outages at short notice, this will be communicated to customers via our website, Outage Hub and social media, along with direct communications via our notification systems. Shutdown information is also updated at 8am each weekday on our phone system – call 0800 100 202.
You can work and school from home during a planned power outage – check out our handy tips here – www.countiesenergy.co.nz/outages-tips Charging batteries, hot-spotting when you need the internet and power packs are simple ways you and your family can manage.
View planned shutdowns and faults 24/7 on the Outage Hub – app.countiesenergy.co.nz.
Update from Monday November 1:
Our full works programme, which we resumed on November 1, is continuing regardless of Alert Level. All planned, and unplanned outages can be viewed on our Outage Hub. Check out our tips and information on what to do to prepare for a power outage here. We thank our customers for your patience and understanding as our crews get back into full works and powering our community now and into the future.
Update from 14 October:
After nearly three months of delay we will resume our full works programme from November 1 to ensure a safe and reliable electricity supply for our community. Since the country moved into Alert Level 4 on 17 August, crews have largely been working on safety and faults work up until this point.
We are the region’s 100 percent community owned lines company, maintaining the electricity network, ensuring new homes and businesses can connect and there is enough capacity to meet the community’s needs. The region is experiencing huge growth, and we must build new network to ensure we can power this growth while also increasing capacity for existing customer’s ever-increasing demand for energy with new technology and innovations.
We cannot continue to operate at the current level of work restriction in Alert Level 3 and must move forward on a number of essential projects to avoid serious consequences to network reliability and capacity. Thank you to our community for your support of our essential worker crews who have responded to safety and faults work while we’ve all been in lockdown. We’ve chosen not to undertake maintenance or capital works that result in customer outages until this point to minimise disruption to our community. Given the uncertainty now with an extended Alert Level 3 and a new staged approach, coupled with no clear indication for any move to Alert Level 2 this side of Christmas, we simply must pick up tools for our community as the network requires safety and key maintenance work for a robust power supply you can rely on. There are also key infrastructure and essential works projects that must be undertaken.
From November 1 we will resume our works programme, after nearly three months of delay. Our construction industry and essential services partners are back at work already, and the region faces serious consequences and a major bottleneck of construction projects awaiting electricity work if we do not restart. By returning to work, so too will our local contractors and suppliers – helping the region bounce back from this latest lockdown.
By recommencing our safety and maintenance programme along with capital works, some planned shutdowns for projects will be necessary. We appreciate and acknowledge that shutdowns are difficult for our customer’s affected so we’re working hard to ensure we minimise disruption wherever possible and shutdown lengths are kept to an absolute minimum. The reality is, a planned outage is less disruptive than a fault, as our teams and customers can prepare. Thank you to our community for helping us get back to work to ensure a safe and reliable power supply now and into the future.
Shutdowns will be advised to customers with at least 10 business days notice, giving affected customers plenty of time to plan for an outage. Reactive shutdowns due to a fault or safety work may however occur within this time. Tips for how to plan for an outage and what to do during can be found at countiesenergy.co.nz/articles/outage-tips. Handy tips for ensuring you can work from home during a planned power outage include charging laptops and devices, using a power pack and hotspotting for internet access.
We are working to a comprehensive disruption mitigation procedure to minimise impact on customers and extensive planning has been undertaken to focus crews on work not requiring shutdowns as a priority.
Essential Planned Shutdown Works
To keep track of our Essential Planned Shutdowns, go to https://app.countiesenergy.co.nz/#/planned
Update from Wednesday 22nd September
We’re monitoring the situation closely in regards to the recent Covid-19 update and remain confident in our pandemic practices, ability to respond to faults and in keeping your power flowing some planned outages will now resume. We’re working closely with our teams and their families, offering support and ensuring all are following Ministry of Health directives. Just a reminder to please notify us prior to us attending a call out at your property if you’re feeling unwell or have been advised to self-isolate. Please maintain a 2m distance from our crews at all times. Stay safe.
Original post 17 August: Our priority is and has always been the safety of our team and our community.
As the coronavirus (Covid-19) situation unfolds our team is closely monitoring updates, assessing the best course of action to ensure the continued safety of our community and to keep your power flowing. We have a pandemic plan in place to ensure essential power services are maintained.
As we move forward, we will be continuing with our work with our teams working in bubbles. As an essential service provider it is critical that we continue to carry out our works programme to provide safe and reliable power to our community.
We have immediately actioned our pandemic plan and implemented safety precautions. Our reception is closed to the public and office-based employees are working remotely. Our crews have implemented bubble working. We have faults crews based across both the Auckland and Waikato regions to ensure timely resolution to faults.
Thanks for your understanding as we keep our crews and our community safe.
More information on planned outages can be found at https://app.countiesenergy.co.nz/#/planned
What are we doing to protect you and our team:
Our crews will be working in bubbles, keeping a 2m distance from others and will be taking extra safety precautions when working on sites.
We are taking preventative measures to keep us all safe. We’re taking extra precautions with additional cleaning and disinfecting across all areas of our business and our equipment and vehicles.
You can call us on 0800 100 202 or check our app for faults – download the app now by typing app.countiesenergy.co.nz in your smartphone internet browser.
If your power is out :
If you require one of our team to attend your site – please advise us immediately and BEFORE our crews arrive if you feel unwell so they can take preventative measures. Please keep a 2m distance from our crews. If you log a fault online using the app, please include this information in the comments field so that one of the team can call you prior to attending.
For helplines please contact:
Healthline New Zealand 0800 611 116.
Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453.
Further information about COVID-19 can be found on the following sites:
WHO – World Health Organisation www.who.int
MOH – Ministry of Health www.health.govt.nz
NZ Government COVID-19 – covid19.govt.nz
Thank you for your support in keeping our community safe, the power flowing and our health services operational.
The Team at Counties Energy