Unit failure has ripple effect

Some Cambridge residents awoke on Sunday morning, July 13 to find their hot water had stopped working, due to a ripple relay failure.

Waipa Networks responded to an outpouring of complaints by Cambridge residents earlier this month whose hot water tanks were switched off between Saturday evening (July 13) and early Monday morning (July 15), saying it will reimburse people who called in electrician’s or plumbers to fix the apparent incident.

Over 8,000 Cambridge area properties are connected to the powerline company’s substation ripple plant which switches their hot water off during peak usage times, for a reduced fee. Usually residents don’t notice because the heating system in their hot water tanks is switched back on before the water cools down.

But on Saturday night, July 13 a unit at the plant failed. Usually repairs can be made then-and-there with spare parts and technicians available on site, but after working through the night the problem couldn’t be fixed and a back-up full replacement unit was brought in from Auckland and installed by 1.30am Monday.

Waipa Networks CEO Adam Fletcher.

“The ripple plant is a reliable but complex piece of equipment,” said Waipa Networks CEO Adam Fletcher. “Failure of this nature is not common and our fault response staff worked tirelessly through the weekend to get this sorted for our customers.”

The Waipa Networks’ Facebook page received many angry comments from customers affected by the outage and concerned about the lack of updates on its website.

“Our Network management system automatically provides website updates related to major power outages, but this was something that was not related to an actual loss of power so would not normally register,” Fletcher explained. “We were able to place Facebook posts with updates and limited information. People appreciated this but clearly there is an opportunity to improve our communications to customers.”

The company confirmed it will reimburse people who were unaware of the situation during the hot water outage and called in an electrician or plumber to try and fix the issue. “We ask that people please get in touch if they have received bills as a result of the incident.”

Fletcher confirmed the company would be making investments to upgrade their outage notification and communication systems.

Ripple  control  systems  have  been  in  use  in  New  Zealand  since  the  1960s. They’re generally  unnoticed and are highly reliable in reducing peak demand on the network, which reduces the cost overall to customers. Ripple control times are in winter when most people are heating their homes, generally around 7am – 8.30am and 6pm – 8.30pm.

Waipa Networks said it had not received any calls from customers requesting removal of the ripple relay on their hot water tank. “We hope that people recognise the benefit of remaining as it does make a significant difference to long term investment needs of the network.”

More Recent News

Make your News our News

News contributions: At Good Local Media we can’t always be at your event or assign a reporter to do interviews – but you can still get your story in the Cambridge News and Te Awamutu…

In the trust, we trust….

Waipā District Council will provide a $750,000 loan guarantee to the trust behind an application to bring the New Zealand Sporting Hall of Fame to the district. In briefing councillors about the proposal, deputy chief…

Meet our global messenger

When Tegan Crotty’s friends told her she should try out swimming, she was initially reluctant. But the minute she got in the water “it was just like that,” the 27-year-old Te Awamutu retail assistant and…

Paying tribute to steam

How does a train enthusiast get their steam engine fix once they have been phased out? They build their own. That’s exactly what Cambridge Model Engineering Society member Dennis Searle did. Searle’s love of steam…