Australian energy industry helps restore power in Tonga

Australian energy networks have sent a team of experts to help restore Tonga’s devastated electricity network after last week’s Tropical Cyclone Gita.

Energy Networks Australia CEO Andrew Dillon said a team from across the nation’s networks has partnered with the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to repair the extensive damage across Tonga’s mainland.

“Cyclone Gita has devastated the Tongan power infrastructure, leaving homes, businesses and critical service providers such as Vaiola hospital and the capital’s water supply without electricity,” Mr Dillon said.

“We understand around half of the low voltage power poles are damaged and power lines down.

“Without external assistance it could take months to reinstate the network across the country.”

Mr Dillon said the energy networks had swiftly responded to support the Australian Government humanitarian response.

“Communities worldwide depend on safe and reliable power supply to function.

“When we learned about the scale of damage in Tonga, we recognised an opportunity for us to contribute,” he said.

“Working with the Australian Government, we quickly coordinated a team to work alongside Tongan crews to restore electricity on the ground.”

The consortium of energy networks contributing to the restoration effort includes Essential Energy, (NSW); Evoenergy (ACT); TransGrid (NSW); and NJ Constructions with additional offers of assistance from SA Power Networks, Jemena, and Endeavour Energy.

TransGrid chief executive officer Paul Italiano said it was important to “help our neighbours in need”.

“Around 35 per cent of Tonga’s high voltage electricity transmission network was damaged during Tropical Cyclone Gita,” he said.

“We are proud to be able to deploy trained staff to assist in rebuilding the nation’s electricity network and helping the country recover.”

Evoenergy chief executive officer Michael Costello said two lineworkers have been deployed to Tonga to support repair efforts.

“We are very proud to be a part of the Australian response effort to restore the island’s electricity infrastructure,” he said,

The emergency response teams are likely to spend several weeks in Tonga.

Mr Dillon said he was grateful to the Australian networks for their timely response to the call for assistance.