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Keywords:

  • GICs;
  • power networks;
  • sudden impulse

[1] Adverse space weather conditions have been shown to be directly responsible for faults within power networks at high latitudes. A number of studies have also shown space weather to impact power networks at lower latitudes, although most of these studies show increases in GIC activity within networks not directly related to hardware faults. This study examines a GIC event that occurred in New Zealand's South Island power network on 6th November 2001. A transformer failure that occurred during this day is shown to be associated with a change in the solar wind dynamic pressure of nearly 20 nPa. Measurements of GICs recorded on the neutral lines of transformers across the Transpower network during this event show good correlation with a GIC-index, a proxy for the geoelectric field that drives GIC. Comparison of this event with GIC activity observed in the Transpower network during large space weather storms such as the “2003 Halloween storm,” suggests that solar wind shocks and associated geomagnetic sudden impulse (SI) events may be as hazardous to middle latitude power networks as GIC activity occurring during the main phase of large storms. Further, this study suggests that the latitudinal dependence of the impacts of SI events on power systems differs from that observed during large main phase storms. This study also highlights the importance of operating procedures for large space weather events, even at middle latitude locations.