Aurora Energy urgently reviewing pole maintenance programmes

21 Oct 2016

In light of safety concerns raised earlier this week, Aurora Energy is urgently reviewing its maintenance programmes to identify if there are any outstanding safety risks not already being addressed.

“Specifically, we are re-checking that all poles needing replacement are appropriately tagged, working with the Energy Safety Service on compliance, and reviewing the rate and priorities of the existing pole repair and maintenance programme,” says Chief Executive Grady Cameron.

Aurora Energy is re-checking 2,170 poles earmarked for replacement to confirm they all have the correct safety tag in place as a visual reminder for line workers not to climb. “We are halfway through that process and will have completed remaining re-inspections in the next two weeks. This verification work started on 5 October as part of our ongoing commitment to health and safety.”

The Energy Safety Service has initiated a safety compliance audit of our maintenance programme and we are cooperating fully. It will be carrying out a compliance and safety audit, including a documentation review this month, followed by a site visit in November. “We welcome the opportunity to work with the Energy Safety Service to ensure our risk assessment for the on-going safety of our works programme is optimal,” says Mr Cameron.

By December this year, the company will have completed most of its $4 million pole maintenance and replacement programme, as set out in its annual asset management plan, and will look to allocate more funding in the second half of the year. The Board has asked for an immediate review of the timing and prioritisation of pole replacement. The Board also supports further acceleration and investment in Aurora Energy’s existing pole replacement, repair and inspection programmes to address the replacement backlog and align with industry regulations.

There are 54,000 wooden and concrete poles within the Aurora Energy network. Of these 1,181 are identified for replacement within the next three months and 1,729 for replacement in the next 12 months. Last year, Aurora Energy replaced 770 poles and carried out 8,300 condition inspections.

“Aurora Energy wants to reassure the public that the concerns about poor condition power poles and pole tagging are an urgent priority. We’ve committed more than $400 million to secure the future reliability of our network over the next 10 years,” says Mr Cameron.

Aurora Energy is New Zealand’s sixth largest electricity network, supplying electricity to 86,400 homes, farms and businesses in Dunedin and Central Otago.