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Lights out again! TAU faces heat after unexpected blackouts

Thursday 27 June 2024 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Editor's Pick, Local, National, Technology

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Lights out again!                  TAU faces heat after unexpected blackouts
Last night’s power outage lasted for about 40 minutes in some areas. In a statement issued last night, electricity provider Te Aponga Uira (TAU) said there was an “unexpected” power outage as at 6.48pm.

Rarotonga residents faced a second consecutive night of unexpected power outages, leaving many frustrated and seeking answers.

Following Tuesday night’s hour-long blackout, another power outage hit last night.

The power outage on Tuesday night at 6.55pm affected customers in the Nikao (backroad), Arorangi, Titikaveka, Ngatangiia Matavera, Tupapa and Town area and was fully restored by 7.50pm.

Last night’s power outage lasted for about 40 minutes in some areas.

In a statement issued last night, electricity provider Te Aponga Uira (TAU) said there was an “unexpected” power outage as at 6.48pm.

“Customers in the Nikao, Arorangi, Titikaveka, Ngatangiia, Matavera, Tupapa, Takuvaine and Town areas have been affected and the team are working on restoring the power.”

As of 7.17pm, the power was restored to those affected areas except for those customers from St Marys (Arorangi) to Papaaroa (Titikaveka). The power was fully restored to all customers affected as of 7.28pm.

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The power outage affected a public consultation conducted by water agency To Tatou Vai at Calvary Hall in Arorangi last night to discuss the incoming water tariffs set to start on January 1, 2025.

These consecutive outages have left residents, especially business owners, demanding answers. They want to know why this is happening, particularly after TAU’s recent announcement of the completion of a major infrastructure project to improve Rarotonga’s power grid.

Liana Scott, the president of the Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council, told Cook Islands News last night she saw a number of takeaways and restaurants that have had to close during peak time.

“One off is understandable, two in two days is not. I wonder if any compensation to businesses,” Scott said.

A popular restaurant in Arorangi had to close early on Tuesday night after waiting for 30 minutes for the power to be restored.

“… by the time the power was restored, they (staff) already packed up everything plus it’s a hassle when guests are paying,” a spokesperson said.

“Restaurant faucets doesn’t work without power because of the pump, our sales were too low and it’s gonna be the same tonight (last night) as well.

“We have big groups booking and I don’t know what will happen to them …it’s really annoying.”

Responding to TAU’s statement posted on its Facebook page last night, a popular fast-food operator commented: “This can’t keep going on specially when we are in the middle of service … Just think about that for a moment. Well hurry up and fix it! I have customers waiting and you are costing us money.”

Another resident said: “Becoming a bit of a joke all these outages ... if you don’t know what you’re doing, bring someone in that does.”

“We all know it was unexpected. What we don’t know is why it keeps happening and what the heck you’re doing about it.”

In response, Te Aponga Uira said: “We want to acknowledge there have been a few unexpected power cuts over the past fortnight, impacting different parts of the island. We are investigating the cause of these cuts and will be advising the public soon.”

“We do apologise for the inconvenience.”

In a statement released on Friday, TAU said it had completed its major project to replace critical infrastructure (generation switch gear) in its generation site in Avatiu valley, aimed at strengthening the reliability of the electricity supply for Rarotonga.

The project began in 2019 and has involved careful planning and management including three planned outages to Rarotonga in recent weeks.

“No further outages are planned for this project,” the statement said.

“TAU strives to provide reliable electricity to all customers 24/7 however planned and unplanned outages due to upgrades and other events do occur occasionally. As is our current practice, we will notify you about events through Facebook, our website and if time allows, via the traditional media platforms.”