Angered Northland businesses are contemplating legal action against Transpower following last month’s region-wide blackout that resulted in significant losses for some.

The grid operator is now facing accusations of reneging on initial suggestions of compensation, a claim it firmly denied.

The June 20 power outage, caused by the removal of nuts holding up a transmission tower in Glorit, left nearly 100,000 customers without electricity for hours.

Economics consultancy Infometrics has estimated losses of up to $60 million, with the largest businesses in Northland having to shut down for days to help conserve power while others suffered knock-on effects after a limited supply of power was restored,

But Transpower’s latest communication advised businesses to pursue claims through their insurers rather than directly with the state-owned enterprise.

Northland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darryn Fisher said businesses were frustrated at the stance of the grid operator.

“The likely outcome is that we, as a membership group, have some form of class action.”

Power isn’t expected to be fully restored until tomorrow night.

He said a recent meeting with Transpower’s legal team was “a complete U-turn” from earlier “good faith conversations” about compensation which were “positive.

1News spoke to several businesses, all who report losing tens of thousands as a result of the multi-hour blackout.

At Northpine, a local timber manufacturer based in Waipu, general manager Bruce Larsen said, “we’re on our own on this one” as insurance wouldn’t cover losses.

“We lost probably a bit over a day’s production, which is between $75,000 and $95,000 worth,” he said. “I know our insurance wouldn’t cover it, so we’re on our own on this one.”

Meanwhile, the Cosmetic Clinic’s Kobe Fuller said she lost tens of thousands after refrigerators failed and customers missed appointments.

“We’ve got medication in the clinic that requires refrigeration, that’s to the sum of at least $30,000 — gone.”

She estimated another $10,000 in losses from missed customer appointments. Fuller said authorities appeared sympathetic to compensation, but have now pulled back.

Energy Minister Simeon Brown visits the scene after a pylon collapsed cutting Northland’s “fragile” power supply.

“They came across like they were going to be taking care of us. They were really apologetic and they would look into some kind of compensation for us as businesses.

“To be honest, we’ve been left high and dry.”

Owner of Wynn Fraser Paints, Allan Gray, said he estimated his business’ losses at approximately $100,000.

“I would be making an offer to Northland. Not asking us to chase compensation,” he said.

“It’s a lot of change and it’s the kind of money that you can’t recover from.

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

While Transpower declined to be interviewed, the company denied any reversal of position, suggesting that no commitments regarding compensation were ever made.

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