We understand how important electricity is to the day-to-day life of our customers. Vector’s electricity network is already 99.97% reliable and we are constantly aiming to improve that record. Using the latest technology, we invest tens of millions of dollars every year on our extensive maintenance and capital improvement programme.
What causes electricity outages?
Any electricity network in the world can be affected by unplanned power outages, whether lines are above or under ground. This is because the entire power system is interconnected - from power stations, to transmission, to local distribution. Technical problems or equipment failure can cause outages, but often the problem is caused by extreme weather (15%), vegetation touching or falling onto lines (15%), car accidents involving power poles and other equipment, and lines being damaged by excavation or construction workers (10%).
Rural versus urban supplies
It is a simple fact of life that rural customers are more likely to experience an outage, and one of longer duration than urban customers. There are several reasons for this. Rural lines are more exposed to weather, trees and animals. When a fault occurs, there are fewer alternative lines available to restore power while the original fault is fixed.
Service standards – our promise to you
Vector has different services standards depending on your location and what type of customer you are. In North Shore, Waitakere and Rodney we have a contract with your retailer. Please contact your electricity retailer to find out about your service standards. In Auckland, Manukau and Papakura we contract with you directly and have made a service commitment in the form of our service standards:
We have different contract arrangements because of historical differences in network ownership and the customer contracts, pricing and relationship agreements put in place by these owners.
Spikes and power surges
Cars crash into poles; animals or trees can damage power lines; storms cause lines to clash - these events can all cause power outages. Besides cutting power, such incidents can also send too much voltage through your power lines and cause damage to household appliances or business equipment and machinery.
Vector can not be held liable for damage to appliances caused by surges and spikes because these can be unavoidable. However, please check whether your insurance policy provides coverage against such damage. Some insurance policies refer to the effects of spikes and surges as "fusion" and some policies exclude this type of damage.
Spikes and surges are rare and most people will never experience one. However, you should protect your sensitive equipment by:
- Using a power filter or surge protector. They cost between $10 and $200, and plug into your household power points. Most have three or four sockets, and some also filter out electromagnetic and radio frequency interference on the lines.
- If you are concerned about losing data on a computer during a power cut, consider an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). They have battery back-ups which maintain power supply while you shut your computers down.
Small spikes and surges in power, and electrical 'noise' caused by other customer equipment, can also affect electronics and cause minor damage that eventually leads to equipment failure. About 80% of power quality issues are actually caused by other equipment on the same premises, and they are often easily fixed. Power filters and surge diverters will help protect equipment from catastrophic events and also reduce unnecessary wear and tear.