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11 November 2022

New generator to solve Pukapuka’s inconsistent power supply problem

Tuesday 14 March 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Local, National, Outer Islands

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New generator to solve  Pukapuka’s inconsistent  power supply problem
The Pukapuka Island Council members with MP Tingika Elikana stand before the brand-new generator. Picture: KO TINGA/23031317

The island of Pukapuka has a new generator to help with its power issues.

The Government delivered the new generator last week.  It comes after residents told Cook Islands News issues with solar batteries and a faulty generator had caused the ongoing power failure on the island.

Pukapuka/Nassau MP Tingika Elikana told Cook Islands News that the arrival of the generator showed the Government was listening to the people’s concerns.

“It’s an important day for the people of Pukapuka,” Elikana said.

“We have been suffering blackouts since September, obviously people were getting really frustrated with this.”

Elikana said he had discussed the issue with Cabinet over the past few weeks, and was pleased they responded quickly.

The 170KVA generator will be installed next week.

“It’s been a really welcome sight,” Elikana said.

“We are looking forward to better days with continued electricity on the island.”

Elikana said he was grateful for the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s quick response to the concerns the people of Pukapuka had about energy reliability on the island.

Pukapuka/Nassau island council executive officer Pio Ravarua and island mayor Levi Walewaoa could not be reached for comment.

In January, a resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told Cook Islands News the island didn’t have a backup generator.

“Sometimes we live without power at night, we used our generators for backup. Some families don’t have generators.”

Another resident claimed the authorities’ inability to fully replace the faulty solar batteries had disrupted regular power supply on the island.

“It started as a minor issue with solar batteries two years ago and I believe only some batteries were replaced. Late last year there was some problem with the (diesel) generator as well,” the resident said.

“We have been getting power at odd hours, sometimes from midnight till 11am. Even on some sunny day there is no power. The longest we have been without power was 12 hours.”

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Mark Brown acknowledged to Cook Islands News that it will cost more than $20 million to replace degrading batteries used to store electricity across the Pa Enua.

Brown has said they are looking at the best battery technology they can get to be able to store the electricity the panels are generating every day.

“There’s no doubt the solar systems are ideal for the north (islands), the reduction in the reliance on diesel has been tremendous, it’s allowed them to have 24-hour power, but the reality is, as people have 24-hour power, then they become more reliant on electricity, and the demand increases.

“That increase in demand has put huge loads on the batteries and they have degraded at a faster rate than we expected,” Brown told Cook Islands News in January.