PowerNet to assist in Fiji

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POWERNET has responded to a call for help from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) and is sending ateam of five line mechanics to Fiji to help restore electricity services devastated after Cyclone Winston.
A crane truck, used to man› ouevre and lift power poles into place, is also being shipped to Fiji for the line mechanics to use while they are there.
When the company asked for expressions of interest from line mechanics, more than 50 put up their hands, chief executive Jason Franklin said.
‘‘It was a significant response. We balanced it out across depots to share the [task] around and ensure we still have staff available here. We have 280 lines staff so taking five out is okay.’’
Cyclone Winston hit Fiji on Febru› ary 20 causing major damage to powerlines and significant power outages.
The team, Reece Stephenson and Mark Payne (Gore), Joe Clarke and Sachin Chand (Invercargill) and Lin› coln Deans (Balclutha), will travel to Fiji on Saturday and spend three to four weeks in the country’s second largest city, Lautoka.
Their work will include disconnec› ting fallen lines from poles and clearing debris so powerlines could be reconstructed safely, erecting fal› len power poles and re›stringing power lines, re›installing fallen trans› formers and other overhead distri› bution equipment.
PowerNet was the third New Zealand lines company to send staff so far, Mr Franklin said, with five companies to be involved in total.
Mfat was meeting the cost of shipping the truck and staff mem› bers’ expenses, he said.
PowerNet was pleased to be able to provide support, service and delivery integration manager Justin Peterson said.
‘‘It’s fantastic that we have the resources, skills and expertise that allow us to give this kind of support to an international recovery effort.’’

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