Lines company Vector is temporarily halting planned outages across its electricity and gas networks to order in complete essential work only during the coronavirus lockdown period.

The company provides electricity, gas and fibre networks that keep the energy flowing, lights on and people connected across Auckland and other parts of the country.

These energy networks fall into the essential services category under the government's definition for alert level 4.

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Vector chief executive Simon Mackenzie said like everyone, Vector was dealing with a rapidly changing situation and so it was assessing all planned works that involve customer power outages for the next four weeks.

"We are very aware that families and communities are going to be based from home and even more reliant on the continuity of power. Everything that can be cancelled or postponed will be," he said.

"We must emphasise that there will be times when we must continue with essential
upgrades. These upgrades are non-negotiable as they provide the community with a safe
and reliable power supply.

"These works may also relate to maintenance required to support other essential services."

For example, one supermarket needs a new storeroom, so there will be a short outage allowing Vector to reconfigure the network accordingly, he said.

Earlier this week, the Herald reported some Auckland residents had complained about planned outages.

Mackenzie said Vector began its response to Covid-19 some weeks ago and has this week taken business continuity plans to the next stage.

"The health and safety of our people and communities continues to be our number one priority and with the country in lockdown, we are halting all non-essential activity across our energy businesses," he said.

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"It's critical for everyone to please play their part and stay home during the lockdown - for their own health and to protect the people who are keeping all the essential services going, not just Vector.

"We have identified the critical people who are the core of our essential energy services and have taken steps to protect them as best we can."

This includes splitting network operators into teams, basing them at different sites and introducing a range of strict hygiene practices and wellbeing support measures, he said.

"Like other lifeline utilities, Vector relies on human beings to keep essential energy services going and none of us are immune to what's going on."

Vector's field technician teams will continue to carry out essential planned and reactive
maintenance across the electricity, gas and fibre networks, as well as for Vector's metering operations.


Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website