We're carrying out the Fast Track pole programme to remove the risk of highest priority power poles with a target of the end of 2017. Poles and overhead equipment are core components of our network and the renewal programme will improve the ongoing safety and reliability of the Aurora Energy network.

The Fast Track programme is a large project and several teams are working in Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes. Priority is being given to poles in and around public places - e.g. schools, care homes, public gathering places and high pedestrian traffic areas. We'll remove the risk by either replacing, remediating or reassessing the poles. 

For the safety of the public and workers, we’ll need to turn the power off when working on poles. As we are working outside and at heights, weather conditions and emergencies can have a major impact on when we can work. Also the availability of contractors impacts our scheduling.

WHY IS THE FAST TRACK PROGRAMME NEEDED?

Much of the Aurora Energy network was built in the 1950s and 1960s. We have around 54,000 power poles on our network of which 31,200 are wooden and 22,800 are concrete or steel. Many of our poles have exceeded or will soon exceed their standard expected life, typically 45 years, and may need replacement.

The Fast Track programme is focused on the 2,910 power poles assessed as in most urgent need of attention. By July 2017, we had completed 1,600 poles and are on track to complete the remaining poles by the end of 2017.

During 2016, Aurora Energy was installing poles at a rate of around 50 per month. We have brought in extra resources to replace poles faster, ramping up from March 2017. The extra crews complement existing Delta staff in Central Otago, Queenstown Lakes and Dunedin. At peak, we expect about 100 people will be working on the pole programme.

The $30 million pole programme is one of the responses to our wider network renewal programme to improve the integrity and reliability of the network, over the next ten years. Our latest asset management plan details our network investment plans and can be found here.

WHAT STEPS ARE WE TAKING?

The Fast Track programme will use a range of methods, from repair to complete replacement. We’ll use the best available option to fix the problem:

  • Replace the old pole with a new one to modern design standards
  • Repair or reinforce a pole using an independently verified method
  • Retest the pole using an independently verified testing method and where assessed as sound, update its condition assessment
  • Convert the overhead line to underground where retaining an overhead line is not practical
  • Support the pole using a temporary fix until a permanent solution is possible.

To meet modern design standards and improve safety and reliability, pole replacements aren't always be like-for-like. We may need to shift the location of some poles, put in a taller pole or use one made of different materials than what is currently there.

In selective cases, we will use pole reinforcement technology to reduce the risk and extend the life of wooden power poles. Find out more about pole reinforcement.

At the same time as we are working on poles, we will replace or repair some associated pole equipment, such as fuses, cross arms and insulators. In some cases other infrastructure - pole-mounted transformers, for example - will also be replaced.

There are instances where we aren’t able to replace the pole immediately, because the installation is very complex, or we have to convert an overhead line to underground. Here, we’ll look at other options to strengthen the pole until such time as a permanent solution is completed. Options could involve installing a second pole beside the old pole to support it or cutting away encroaching vegetation.

WHAT IMPACT WILL THIS HAVE ON ME?

Detailed planning is needed to coordinate a project of this scale and we’re making every effort to keep disruption to a minimum.

If you live in an area where poles are being worked on, we may need to turn your power off to do the work safely.

We will make every effort to notify you in advance if a power outage is required. An outage could last several hours at a time, depending on the number of poles that need replacing in the street and complexity of the work involved.

Our aim is to notify you in advance of the date and expected duration of the outage, and whether there will need to be more than one outage. We may need to turn power off to a wider area than just the houses closest to the power pole.

If your house or business is likely to be affected by a planned outage, we will be in direct communication in advance so everyone can plan ahead. In some cases we may need to make more than one visit to an area.

On occasion, we may be unable to proceed with work on the day the planned power outage is scheduled due to events beyond our control. Please check out our Outages page on the day of the planned power outage in case of a late cancellation.

If you have medical equipment in your home which requires an uninterrupted power supply please let us know by contacting us here

If you have concerns about the operation of your business during an outage please contact us so we can look at options and discuss what contingency plans are possible.

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience and cooperation while we carry out this important upgrade work, which will improve the safety and reliability of the electricity network in your neighbourhood and across our network.

Check on upcoming planned outages here.

KEEP SAFE

Power could be restored at any time during the course of the planned outages, so customers in these areas should treat all electrical equipment and power lines as live at all times. During a power outage, switch appliances off at the wall to avoid possible damage to electrical appliances when power is restored. Always keep well clear of fallen power lines or damaged electrical equipment and treat them as live at all times. To report damaged or downed power lines, please contact us on 0800 22 00 05 and remember to keep safe around electricity.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Check out frequently asked questions here

 

MORE INFORMATION

Contact Aurora Energy on 0800 22 00 05 or fasttrack@auroraenergy.co.nz.

Fast Track Pole Programme Moves Into Top Gear (PDF)

Investing In Your Energy Future (PDF)