Top Energy CEO Russell Shaw is hoping that the Far North's electricity supply will not be interrupted on Sunday week (November 8), when the sole feeder that brings power to the district through Auckland is shut down for its annual maintenance.
He was "cautiously optimistic" on Tuesday that the 12 new generators the lines company had bought and installed as back-up would do the job, although he wasn't offering any guarantees.
If the supply was interrupted, however, it would not be for lack of effort.
The power outage was planned for more than 9 hours, from 7.30am to 5pm, he said, and everything that could be done to ensure, as much as the company could, that no one's lights would go off had been done.
Doubtless Bay's power supply had been backed up by generators at Taipā for the last 10 years, and next week they would be joined by more in Kaitaia, at the company's depot in Whangatane Dr and at a 'generator farm' on Bonnetts Rd.
"We're not expecting any problems," Shaw said, "but I can't go beyond cautiously optimistic.
"We've tested everything, but the Kaitaia generators have never been run at fill load, and I can't guarantee that the supply won't be interrupted until we do that. We've done everything possible to prepare for the outage, but we just don't know."
Even if everything went as well as it possibly could , he added, people would be asked to conserve electricity for the duration of the outage. The need for that had been made painfully clear in Russell, after a car crash took out a power pole and cut the supply.
Generators went the rescue, but couldn't handle the demand.
"For some reason people turned everything on, until we reached peak demand," he said.
"The generators tripped, and everything went off.
"The message next week will be to conserve power and to have a back-up plan in case there is an outage. It should be OK, but there are a lot of units to control and synchronise."
The only customer that would definitely not have power was Juken NZ in Kaitaia, but it's mills were shut down Sunday's anyway.
The generators, he added, would be powered with diesel, but could be adapted for biodiesel, the problem being that Top Energy couldn't find a source that could provide as much as was needed.
"One day," he said.
"No one's making it yet, but it will come."
And, just in case his cautious optimism was misplaced, he apologised in advance for any inconvenience that might be suffered by any of the company's 11,890 customers on November 8.
Top Energy's community is producing more solar power than any other lines company in the country, according to chief executive Russell Shaw.
"Most of it's domestic but there is some commercial generation too," he said, currently amounting to a little over 5MW, with applications for another 90MW and more in the system, all in the "far Far North."
"This will be the solar capital of New Zealand," he said.
Top Energy's role was to connect solar systems, and to redistribute excess electricity. Four private developers were currently expanding the network, some system having batteries, others not.