Can we all just get past the whole, ‘Jaffas-don’t-know-what-a-real-storm-is’ crap and actually ask some hard questions of the lack of awareness and clean up response.
This matters because Auckland is our largest city and our global warming future means these sorts of extreme events are going to become more regular.
We’ve had rush of neoliberal apologists telling Aucklanders that we had plenty of warning and that we should take it as a lesson to be prepared…
Aucklanders’ reluctance to remove and trim trees blamed for power outages
Aucklanders’ love of trees contributed to power cuts to a quarter of the region during Tuesday night’s storm, an electricity industry commentator says.
Wellington-based Molly Melhuish said people’s reluctance to remove or trim trees exacerbated the effect from the strong winds, which gusted more than 150kmh overnight.
“I love trees on streets, I don’t want to be too hard on getting rid of them, people love their trees, they hate cutting them down, but they’ve paid the price this time,” Melhuish said.
Protecting properties’ power supplies “depends on how strongly Vector insists on removing dangerous trees, that’s what all the outages were about”, she said.
About 120 power lines remained down, with more than 91,000 Auckland properties without power on Wednesday, and some could be without it for days, Vector network manager Minoru Frederiksens said.
Vector had 75 crews working to restore lines but that could take two to three days, he said.
Vector spokesman Iain Butler confirmed “by and large” trees were to blame for Auckland’s outages.
“A tree doesn’t have to fall to cut power. Smashing into lines and then blowing back again can be enough, and not all fallen trees land on power lines,” Butler said.
The company’s hands are often tied wanting to trim trees that they need permission from property owners to prune, Frederiksens said.
Even if permission is granted, property owners don’t want to pay trimming costs and Vector is reluctant to pick up the tab for what he said is the tree owner’s responsibility.
“More trees” weakened by Tuesday’s cyclone force winds and heavy rains could come down and cause more outages if another low front deepens and strikes Auckland, he said.
EMA: AUCKLAND’S GRID AND BUSINESSES ‘RESILIENT’
Employer and Manufacturers Association chief executive Kim Campbell’s initial assessment on how Auckland’s grid stood up in the “phenomenal storm” was positive.
Winds peaked at 213kmh at Manukau Heads.
Campbell said work started following Auckland CBD’s crippling six-month-long outage in 1998 had made the city’s power grid more robust.
By world standards, the city had “one of the best power supplies”, but “there’s not a lot you can do” about storms hitting power lines, he said.
All businesses should have contingency plans for power outages, he said.
Most businesses have business interruption insurance and larger firms have backup power generation.
“There’s is no power grid in the world which is 100 per cent reliable. We have a storm that happens once every 50 years so we have an outage that lasts a few days.
“If this happened every week then you’d say ‘we’ve got a problem’.”
…many thoughts here.
1 – I think getting a Wellington PR consultant to lecture Aucklanders is about as tactful as setting a feminist meeting at a strip club.
2 – Anytime the Employer and Manufacturers Association chief executive Kim Campbell crawls out of his crypt from feeding on the souls of kittens to defend the free market a Green Party activist dies.
3 – If Civil Defence & infrastructure services are so certain they communicated adequately the risks of the storm that hit Auckland – why are they now begging for patience while 115 000 homes still don’t have power? Didn’t they listen to their own advice the way they expected us to?
I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ but all we have learned since National left power was that they underfunded ever aspect of social society to gain their tax cut surpluses and it seems that not only are our tax payer funded weather services increasingly inaccurate, the civil defence social services and infrastructure required to defend and repair after natural disasters is increasingly worn thin.
I’ve asked before whether or not MetService’s corporate focus has watered down its domestic reporting duties…
I was one of those who asked questions about MetService at the time, but more from the point of view that I just assumed that because MetService was a publicly owned entity, National would have run it into the ground with cost cutting and monetisation prioritisation over free public services.So I fired off an OIA request to MetService and did some digging.What I found was a profit agenda program at total fucking odds with the public responsibilities MetService are supposed to represent.So we are all on the same page, here’s MetServices Introduction about themselves from their 2017 report to the incoming Associate Minister of Transport…As this country’s oldest continuous scientific institution, MetService has a proud history of scientific enterprise and public social responsibility. August 2011 marked the 150th anniversary of the appointment of New Zealand’s first Director of Meteorological Stations, Dr Charles Knight. Through the years since, despite the pressures of structural change and funding uncertainty, the organisation’s focus on forecast quality and public safety has remained its driving force.On 1 July 2017, MetService will celebrate its 25th anniversary as a State-Owned Enterprise. Its SOE status gives the organisation a unique position among its National Meteorological Service peers – that of a fully commercial operation able to compete successfully in multiple markets and sectors around the world, while also providing a comprehensive range of World Meteorological Organization (WMO) standard weather services to New Zealanders. Both sides of the business benefit each other and work closely in tandem, with the creativity and can-do attitude of MetService’s highly skilled staff at the core of this success.MetService employees offer a diverse skillset – not only meteorologists and the engineers and technicians who maintain the observing network, but also graphics and information system developers, sales managers and communicators, to name a few – so our culture is one of high performance. MetService employs the best and most talented in their fields, and we widen their expertise with training focused on the outcomes we need. MetService is further investing in a number of initiatives to drive international growth, that delivers long-term value to shareholders.…why the incoming Associate Minister of Transport? It’s because MetService run their public safety forecasting services via a contract through the Ministry of Transport…
MetService’s cornerstone contract is with the Ministry of Transport. Public safety forecasting services such as severe weather forecasting and warning services for New Zealand, its coastal waters and the South Pacific high seas are provided under this contract, which provides a mechanism for the Minister of Transport to fulfil their obligations under the Meteorological Services Act 1990.
…ok, and so how has this contract from the Ministry of Transport panned out then?
Here’s the information from the OIA…
…so about $22million each year from the Ministry of Transport for public safety forecasting services which is about a $5m increase in budget over a decade which seems pretty small for a country as large as ours. This represents 40% of their budget so total cost must be under $60m.
268,021 sq km
Ranked 73th. 11% more than United Kingdom
241,590 sq km
But the cost of the MetOffice is $224million so our $60million looks pretty tiny for a land mass that is so much larger.
But what really caught my eye as I was looking through the MetService reports was this graphic…
…we own 49% of something called ‘MetOcean Solutions’. Who are they?
‘They’ are a commercial enterprise that MetService has invested in because as a Crown Owned Enterprise they have to make a return.
In August 2013, MetService acquired a 49% stake in leading New Zealand oceanographic weather company, MetOcean Solutions Ltd. This investment is a key part of our growth strategy, helping springboard us into the international marine sector with established products and world-class expertise.
So what services do MetOcean provide?
Here’s where the profit agenda comes at total odds with the public responsibilities.
MetOcean, the company we own 49% of, provides special oceanic weather forecasts for the deep sea oil and gas industry…
Worldwide, a variety of offshore oil and gas companies use historical data from MetOceanView to understand the environment they work in. Packaged up in the site’s ‘hindcast app’, historical wind, wave and current data is summarised in an easy-to-access format that users can download and integrate into their operational planning.
“The offshore oil and gas industry needs access to reliable site data,” explains Senior Oceanographer Dr Rafael Guedes. “Nowadays, many data sources are available, and the industry needs a robust web platform where they can easily access, browse and download time-series from some of the best hindcast data sources available around the globe. To meet their needs, we set up a hindcast downloading app within our MetOceanView web service.”
…which brings us back to that giant wave. It was MetOcean who recorded it. Can no one else see the utter counter productive madness of a publicly owned Weather Service that warns us of extreme weather events owning a 49% stake in a service providing weather reports to the oil and gas industry that is helping create more climate change pollution???
…it feels like the priority is to make money while domestic weather forecasting has suffered.
I also find the Vector and Civil Defence have simply put the responsibility to stay safe in a natural disaster on the individual rather than well funded public service responders.
It’s a bit like the whole Worksafe ‘use your mouth’ campaign…
If only we had, what were they called, Unions, that’s right, Unions who could demand basic work safety instead of this bullshit ‘you’re responsible yourselves’ multimedia crap.
Our public infrastructure is so frail the best they can do to promote safety and natural disaster responses are reduced to reminding you that you are on your own.
Many Aucklanders had no idea how severe the storm was going to be, rather than blaming Aucklanders perhaps those tasked with ensuring we get warned need to find better ways of communication rather than shrugging.