The repair bill for damage to Far North power lines inflicted by Cyclone Ita is likely to top $150,000.

The tropical cyclone struck Northland just before Easter, with heavy rain in places and winds of up to 120km/h.

While damage to roads and buildings from storm surges was less than that caused by Cyclone Lusi a month earlier, damage to the lines network was far greater.

The storm peaked on the morning of April 17, by which time almost 6000 Far North households had lost their power supply.


By the time repair crews had to stop work for safety reasons at 6pm, about 1000 households and businesses were still without power.

Top Energy network manager David Worsfold said he was grateful for the public's understanding and patience during Easter. Most consumers understood the difficulties faced by repair crews, even after 24 hours or more without power.

Trees did most of the damage. Usually trees and branches just brought down lines, but this time the company lost a lot of power poles and hardware as well.

Mr Worsfold said Top Energy spent at least $2 million a year managing trees close to power lines, but in many cases the trees were on private land and their owners were reluctant to remove or trim them.

"We have statutory powers to keep trees out of power lines but, in weather events like this, the statutory clearance distances don't mean much. Landowners need to look at their trees with a view to whether they will take out the power lines if they come down, not just if a branch comes off," he said.

Top Energy had received about a dozen complaints, mainly over the order of getting people's power back on.

Mr Worsfold said the main feeders had to be repaired first. After that it was a matter of dealing with the greatest number of consumers first, while allowing for special circumstances such as vulnerable customers and dairy farms needing to milk their animals.

Commercial consumers in remote locations should consider whether they needed to buy generators for weather events such as Cyclone Ita.