Investigation launched as “power lines just fell on the road.”
Aurora Energy has launched a full investigation into how power lines fell onto SH6 at the Shotover Bridge approach today bringing peak hour traffic to a standstill and causing power outages across the district.
A Delta repair crew working at the site told Crux this morning that “the lines just fell on the road. We don’t yet know why.”
An Aurora spokesperson told Crux later in the morning that “something broke or burnt, not a power pole. That caused the lines to break and then spark, falling across the main road into Queenstown. That in turn triggered safety systems to kick in and turn off the power supply to the lines. The lines would not have been live at the time they hit the ground. The safety of the public was not at risk.” The spokesperson said that at this stage no maintenance or network repair issues were known to be involved.
Not only was power disrupted to the Whakatipu Basin but Coronet Peak ski operations were cut back to reduce power demand on the network. “We are grateful to NZ Ski for that and for the patience of people generally in responding to this incident” the Aurora spokesperson told Crux.
Police and emergency services shut down both approaches to the Shotover Bridge as reports of the lines being down were received, but a large number of vehicles drove past, or even over, the downed lines before the bridge was closed.
All major routes into and out of Queenstown were severely affected and power was not restored to the area until around midday.
Aurora Energy was unable to say how quickly the investigation would be completed but work was due to start today.
Police told Crux that their role was limited to traffic control after being informed of “sparking” on the lines around 8.45 am this morning.