Unison doubles up on command centre

By Patrick O'Sullivan

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Unison Networks is building a second command centre  in case its headquarters is disabled by a disaster. Pictured  is Unison relationship manager Danny Gough. Photo / Paul Taylor
Unison Networks is building a second command centre in case its headquarters is disabled by a disaster. Pictured is Unison relationship manager Danny Gough. Photo / Paul Taylor

Unison Networks is building a second command centre should disaster strike its headquarters in the Hastings suburb of Omahu.

Unison relationship manager Danny Gough said the Alternate Operations Centre was a "one of the learnings" following the Christchurch earthquakes.

"We did have a containerised building in the middle of Hastings but we have decided to do something more substantial," he said.

"It is built to very high standards to withstand significant events, certainly earthquake events, to give us a backup should our control room and other systems take a decent hit."

Beside the Te Mata Rd substation near Durham Drive in Havelock North, it is due to be completed at the end of October.

"It is certainly something we have put a lot of thought into in terms of planning and design.

"It will be an important strategic building for us, built to a very high standard."

While it won't have a permanent presence it will be used for training.

"We will look to utilise the building without just waiting for disaster to strike. It gives us options and flexibility."

Unison's lines network includes Rotorua and Taupo plus the company is contracted to Central Hawke's Bay's network, representing several hundred million dollars of infrastructure. It is an infrastructure needing extensive resources at times of natural disaster.

It took one month for all customers to be reconnected to the normal network supply on the Taupo Plains following a snowstorm on August 5-6, despite crews from three other line companies assisting.

While 70 field staff worked to repair the network a 100kVA network generator was placed at the Tarawera Cafe and isolated customers received portable generators. After replacing 200 poles destroyed in the snowstorm, power to all customers was resumed on Friday.

The Alternate Operations Centre comes at a time when natural disasters are making headlines in Hawke's Bay, with last month's campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North affecting about 5000 people.

Hawke's Bay is one of the country's more seismically active regions and a magnitude 7.1 East Cape quake on Friday was felt throughout the region. East Cape residents fled to the hills fearing a tsunami.

GNS Science said the East Cape area can expect up to two years of aftershocks.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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