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Raro switches off and saves

Wednesday 1 April 2009 | Published in National

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Tuesday 31: Rarotonga residents did take note and ‘switch off’ during Saturday night’s Earth Hour.

Te Aponga Uira’s Elma Marurai says that power station staff monitored loadings from between 8.30pm and 9.30pm, and they noted some drops in the feeders.

With people being asked to switch their lights off at that time, TAU was hoping to see a decrease of 500kW usage in the hour, compared with readings made on the three previous Saturday nights.

However, the total savings was recorded at 350kW – the equivalent of around 200 homes turning off all their power during that hour. Between four and five megawatts of power is used up on a typical Saturday night.

“The biggest drop of 73kW [at 8.30pm] was on the east coast feeder [upper Tupapa, Matavera, Ngatangiia] and the next was on the cross-line feeder which feeds most of the resorts.”

Marurai says that the cross-line feeder recorded a saving of 108kW during that hour.

The Avarua feeder dipped slightly but picked up around 9pm – with the township coming to life around then.

There was also a slight dip on the west coast on the island at the start of the hour.

Marurai says readings were taken every 10 minutes after 8.30pm, and most savings occurred at the start.

“It was okay with around 100 homes responding well [at 8.30pm] which is not bad for two days of advertising.”

Marurai says TAU power station staff and linesmen also used the hour to test their response to see how their systems cope with a sharp rise in consumption at a given time. As the station generators have to be manually adjusted to take on high loadings in a short space of time, Marurai says resorts were asked to gradually switch back on line, and TAU staff were standing-by at some of the main substations to assist with any adjustments.

Marurai says Te Aponga will definitely be repeating the exercise next year with a bit more lead-in time, and hope that there will be a lot more savings.

“We would like to thank all the households which responded and participated in the Earth Hour especially those on the east coast and the resorts. With only a couple of days notice, it shows that people are environmentally aware and will conserve power when asked to.”

She adds that Cook Islanders should not only be thinking about saving power during Earth Hour each year, but every hour of the year. - MM