Access by Various artists

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Access: How many agencies does it take to change a light bulb?

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  • Angela Hart,

    I’ve read through the posts and the general opinion seems to be that responsibility lies mainly with the health people providing the equipment. I will put forward some of the suggestions for a flexible back-up system if and when I get the opportunity.

    The other angle that occurred to me when this all happened was the database of medically vulnerable people. We had completed the forms and were on our retailer’s list, but I realised afterwards that Vector did not have the information unless it was accessed through our retailer.
    I contacted Vector but they appear to have no provision for a database of their own. They put my query in as a complaint, which is still grinding through their system.
    The retailers don’t do the work on the system, it’s the lines companies, so shouldn’t it be the lines companies who hold the information about vulnerable customers? Anyone know more about this?

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    There's a website!

    https://www.ea.govt.nz/operations/retail/retailers/retailer-obligations/medically-dependant-and-vulnerable-customers/

    AND....Guidelines!!!!

    file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/Guideline-on-Arrangements-to-Assist-Medically-Dependent-Consumers.pdf

    BUT....

    (d) the Guideline does not imply a guaranteed supply of electricity. Temporary
    electricity outages do occur from time to time. It is expected that:
    (i) MDCs note that retailers cannot guarantee the supply of electricity at
    all times. Therefore MDCs need to take responsibility for ensuring that
    they have an emergency response plan in place to respond to any
    electricity outage;
    (ii) such a plan will be particular to the MDCs affected, and may range
    from ensuring that a stand-by battery is always fully charged, to
    relocating to a friend’s or family member’s premises which has
    electricity at that point in time, or even calling an ambulance to be
    taken to hospital;

    So, there you have it...the Electricity Authority say's you're on your own.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Thanks Rosemary.

    I was thinking that where there’s a fault requiring the linesman to have power turned off to a street or two, that if he was expected to check a readily available (to him) database for medically vulnerable customers, that would offer some safety options. He could phone the customer and give warning, check that they could cope, perhaps give them time to prepare by cutting another street first. But if the information is only available through electricity retailers, then it may be too difficult to access by frontline staff.

    I guess I’m saying what is the point of a list of medically dependent customers if it isn’t/can’t be used effectively?

    Both of the notifications we got, Powershop and Vector, were generic, went to everyone affected by this planned outage. The MDC list wasn’t used. Which is probably a good approach since not everyone who should be is necessarily on it.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    What if we all had solar panels on the roof or our own wind turbine in the garden?

    It would cost much, much more that $120?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    What if we all had solar panels on the roof or our own wind turbine in the garden?

    It would cost much, much more that $120?

    Yes, but, once up and running a solar (and maybe wind) powered system is so liberating.

    All up, our solar power system in our Bus cost about $2000 dollars. We could have spent less. We could have spent way more. What we have got is freedom from having to be hooked into the grid. Its kinda like cutting the umbilical cord.

    AND...in our situation....provides a much better quality of life within our very restricted income.

    Speaking of contingency plans, our Bus is ours. We realised that if/when we sold the family home after the Young People left home (hahahahaha) we would have considerable trouble finding somewhere to live that was wheelchair accessible....that was in a location that was life sustaining to us. The whole of the country is potentially our home. And we carry all our required infrastructure with us.

    And...two people plus wheelchair can live comfortably in a 7x2 metre space. ;-) ;-)

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    What if we all had solar panels on the roof or our own wind turbine in the garden?
    It would cost much, much more than $120?

    Whole different question :)

    That is really a "who pays" question, in Australia for a while the upfront payment for renewable energy certificates was enough to cover the cost of many PV systems. Basically, you could sell the carbon credits to pay for the system. And a lot of people did, because a PV system now is worth more than paying carbon tax later. Or not, if you follow Australian political shenanigans.

    New Zealand could do something similar, and come up with a way to have the people with money pay for a distributed generation system located on poor people's houses. It might end up cheaper than building new power stations and upgrading the grid. Or not. But until you do the research, you don't know. In Australia Beyond Zero Emissions did a study that found that it was cheaper to expand the power system using wind and PV than coal. Then the government commissioned a study to demolish that nonsense, which found that BZE were right. So they commissioned another study... anyway, moving right along.

    A second problem is that if there are batteries involved they need more maintenance than a simple PV system. But without batteries a lot of things simply won't run off most PV systems because they need more power to start than to run (anything with a motor), and if there's not enough power to start bad things can happen. Fridges are probably the easy one to understand - most people have a fridge, most fridges use less than 500W while running... but at least three times their running power to start up. So if your PV system can't deliver 1500W to the fridge... the motor won't start properly, it'll just sit there stalled and trying to start until it burns out.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    All up, our solar power system in our Bus cost about $2000 dollars. AND...in our situation....provides a much better quality of life within our very restricted income. Speaking of contingency plans, our Bus is ours.

    Yep, that's a good solution for you. But it doesn't really generalise except in the "self-contained solar systems can be relatively affordable". I've looked at building a housebus, and you really do have to change what you expect from "where I live". A pool, or even a pool table, is right out :)

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Of course another approach would be to recentralise and renationalise electricity generation and supply including lines so there would be one centralised provider, database etc etc. And much cheaper electricity and incentives for solar and wind too. After all New Zealanders built the system so we shouldn't be paying a whole lot of money to middle people or overseas corporates.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    or 'investors' seeking dividends

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Sacha,

    Ha, won’t someone think of the moms and dads ordinary Kiwis who own big pieces of the generator company cakes? They could end up out of pocket if other moms and dads put solar panels on the roof. Which would be bad for the economy, which could give rise to lots of bullshit commentary from John Key on commercial radio.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Moz,

    Solar PV with no batteries and no grid tie would be fairly useless (except for special purposes), not least because you generally want lights on during the hours of darkness.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    A good special purpose is the chest freezer, and the hot water cylinder. And an alternative to the conventional battery – but less efficient – is to compress air into a holding tank when the sun shines, or pump water up hill. But I’m going to say it again: “Tesla battery”

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Solar PV with no batteries and no grid tie would be fairly useless (except for special purposes), not least because you generally want lights on during the hours of darkness.

    I went to a fascinating talk last week in Lower Hutt (run by Cafe Scientifique) which was all about solar/wind power, particularly the system they've set up on Somes Island for the DOC people there. It's a combination of a wind turbine, solar panels, batteries, and I believe some natural gas (for a stove, that sort of thing). Apparently it works really well because the wind in Wellington Harbour tends to rise around sunset, which is when the solar cuts out, and they can reliably switch to turbine generation for night stuff - otherwise they'd need more batteries.

    The thing I also remember from the talk is that they've found for more remote Pacific islands switching from diesel generation to solar/wind can be a problem because the regular diesel deliveries are also how other stuff is delivered (presumably it's otherwise uneconomic to ship the other stuff without the diesel) - taking away those boat runs can cause more problems than generating their own power solves.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I have some thoughts on how you might cut through the bureaucracy - write to the Electricity Authority, your DHB, Minister for Energy, Minister of Health and Minister of Social Welfare. Cc them all in on the one letter so they know they'll need to work together on a response. Explain how the process isn't working on the ground as intended - notification is patchy, arranging alternative supply is difficult and expensive. People's lives are in danger because there's no joined up government solutions here. Suggest a joined up solution, especially if it isn't an expensive one (say, power cos provide numbers of medically dependent customers to DHBs, who using that data can purchase a few spare power supplies to lend out for planned power outages, which may not affect more than a handful of people at once), explain the costs of not providing it (hospital nights, risk to health), and see what happens. It may not have any direct results for a while, but I can't think of an obvious roadblock like it being contrary to government policy or so forth.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart, in reply to B Jones,

    I have some thoughts on how you might cut through the bureaucracy – write to the Electricity Authority, your DHB, Minister for Energy, Minister of Health and Minister of Social Welfare. Cc them all in on the one letter so they know they’ll need to work together on a response.

    It couldn't hurt to try, I will have a go along these lines, thanks B Jones

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Marc C,

    Talking about agencies, and problems dealing with them, perhaps we can start with sending the Office of Ombudsmen a message re the lack of transparency and accountability that many state agencies show us. Many have a poor record on OIA requests and how they provide sought information.

    As part of a wider review of the OIA practices and processes, and the issues that have come to the attention of the Chief Ombudsman, they are conducting a survey, which ends tomorrow, 05 Nov. 2015.

    Some here may wish to participate in that, and send the Ombudsman some feedback, so we may finally get some action on that front:
    http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/newsroom/item/review-of-oia-practices-surveys-of-requesters-and-government-workers

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OIAsurvey1
    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OIASurvey2

    Having had many disappointments and endless frustrations with OIA responses, some coming only after months, some only offering little information, others not answering any requests at all, I strongly encourage readers here to do at least one of those surveys.

    The OIA has never been abused more than under the present government, and many agencies withhold lots of information for dubious reasons, simply doing all to avoid accountability.

    Akl • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart, in reply to Marc C,

    many agencies withhold lots of information for dubious reasons,

    on that note you may be interested to have a look at case note reference 380335 here http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/resources-and-publications/case-notes/official-information-case-notes

    which gives the Ombudsman's take on a particularly dubious reason for withholding information

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Angela Hart,

    You finally got a result. Great work. It really does show up the Ministry's culture.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to steven crawford,

    Hot water cylinder? Usually over 2kW, so you'd need a *lot* of panels, or a battery, *or* and I'm not sure these are available, an inverter that instead of delivering 240v or nothing, adapts its output voltage to match the available input current, which would work with a heating element (but not most other loads). Bonus points for hacking one of those together.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart,

    Thanks Sacha, Prof Paterson and his team deserve the credit here.

    That particular reason won’t be used to decline again. But the Ministry’s strategy was successful in delaying an informative response.

    The information ultimately provided was quite limited because almost every NASC claimed not to know total hours of support needed, or the extent of natural support provided- even though assessing these things is their job and FFC policy requires them to record assessed support needs, both paid and unpaid (13.2).

    I pointed this out to the Ministry, which has responsibility for the NASCs working to their contracts, and have not given up on this one yet.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Hot water cylinder? Usually over 2kW, so you’d need a *lot* of panels, or a battery, *or* and I’m not sure these are available, an inverter that instead of delivering 240v or nothing, adapts its output voltage to match the available input current, which would work with a heating element (but not most other loads). Bonus points for hacking one of those together.

    You are *absolutely* correct (I don’t use that word lightly) you would need a reasonable array of panels. Enough to produce around 2KW per day, depending on the number of people using the shower. And how well insolated the cylinder is. Having a battery is irrelevant to that.

    I think you are over complicating the need for the special inverter. You wouldn’t need an inverter at all. You could use a DC element and a cheap as chips voltage regulator.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Getting a thermostat system to comply with council regulators might not be so easy but. The bureaucracy is always the tricky part.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Some island has been cracking Hippy Hydrogen

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart, in reply to steven crawford,

    Do they vent the oxygen to atmosphere?

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to steven crawford,

    Solar panels are optimised to generate power at a fixed voltage - around 18v. If you drain too much current, the voltage goes down and the power goes down by more.

    The power converted by a hot water element is proportional to the square of the actual input voltage - to develop full power on a 240v element, you'd need a series solar array of about 15 panels. Even if you made that, it would only work well in full sunlight - in shade, the panel voltage would drop and the panel would be running well below full possible output.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

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