Anger at power cut confusion

By Julia Proverbs

Te Puna cafe owner Duncan Place is angry that he could be up to $2000 out of pocket because of a lack of communication about a planned power cut.

Mr Place, who owns Cafe Paradiso at Village @ 7, said he cancelled bookings, told regular customers the cafe would be closed and hired a generator for a power cut that never eventuated.

Mr Place and landlords Gavin and Raylee Muir, received letters from their electricity suppliers, Nova Energy and Trustpower, on Wednesday last week saying that the power would be cut yesterday.

The letter stated the work would be carried out "weather permitting" and that "should circumstances prevent" it would be moved to Friday.

However, by Tuesday evening they still didn't know what was happening.

"I couldn't get an answer from Nova Energy or Powerco," Mr Place said.

It was not until 9am yesterday, having hired a generator to keep refrigerators running, that he found out the work would not be going ahead.

"Luckily the hire company was really good and swapped it to Friday," Mr Place said.

But he will not recoup the estimated $600-$700 he lost in custom. And if the work goes ahead tomorrow, one of his busiest days, he said he could lose another $1500 in revenue.

Furthermore, staff prepared food for the weekend on a Friday and he would have to pay for them to come in earlier on the Saturday, he said.

Mr Place said he asked that the work be done outside business hours or that he be compensated in some way, but his request was declined.

Mrs Muir said it was "disgusting" that their tenants were left hanging until the last minute.

"I am up in arms. This is not on," she said.

"They should have made a decision by Monday. We're given weather forecasts a fortnight out.

"In my opinion they could have organised it far better."

Powerco network operations manager Phil Marsh said the work was postponed yesterday because crews were deployed to a more urgent job.

When Powerco notified customers of planned power cuts they were always provided with a primary and alternative date and time, he said.

"Powerco is rebuilding a section of the network on Clarke Rd, Te Puna, replacing poles, cross-arms, insulators and the overhead lines to improve the quality of supply in the area.

"The new assets have an expected life of around 50 years so this is not the type of project customers will see very often but we are mindful that the planned power cut required to undertake this type of work creates an inconvenience to customers and we do apologise for that," he said.

The work was expected to take place tomorrow.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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