Media Releases & News

Summary of Independent State-of-the-Network Report on Aurora Energy Released

31 October 2018
An independent review of Aurora Energy has found most of its assets pose a low risk to public safety, reliability or the environment.

The top-level findings of WSP’s independent engineering review of the state of the Aurora Energy electricity network were released today, prior to the publication of its full report next week.

The main aims of the eight-month, comprehensive independent review were to confirm the state of the network and to determine the resulting risk to customers and the wider public.

Aurora Energy’s chief executive Richard Fletcher said “the findings of the independent review support our planned investment in critical areas and has prompted us to make some refinements to condition and risk assessment and to reprioritise some of our planned work.

“Overall the network is safe, though the condition of a portion of specific asset types (protection, poles and cross arms) will carry a higher public safety risk as we work through the renewal backlog.

“The review has also highlighted specific areas where we need to take steps to address existing risk or where we need to refine our long term asset renewal plans to address emerging risk.

“Immediate actions arising from the report’s findings are to:

  • Ensure that our aging protection relays are tested on a regular basis and revise their maintenance frequency based on what we find during inspections
  • Instigate further research into the implications of very low probability-very high impact natural disasters, most notably earthquakes and resulting liquefaction and the options for mitigation.

“Once we receive the full report next week, we will consider WSP’s findings in detail as we prepare our 2019 Asset Management Plan, to be published in March 2019. Based on our early view on the report, we expect to make the following additions: 

  • Provide an accelerated plan for the replacement of our high risk protection relays
  • Enhance the reporting of network risks by expanding the current asset health assessment to include criticality and risk
  • Report on our network resiliency risks and our plans to achieve greater resilience.

“WSP’s state-of-the-network review reinforces the importance of Aurora Energy continuing to invest strongly in renewing its ageing network, as  set out in its 2018 Asset Management Plan, published two weeks’ ago. Those plans include maintaining an accelerated pole renewal and strengthening programme for up to three more years to reach a steady-state level.

“WSP brought the latest techniques in asset inspections and a robust framework for making risk-based investment decisions. We will gain enduring benefit from their expertise as we refine our risk management framework and adopt new inspection methods including using drones,” said Mr Fletcher.

In March this year, WSP was commissioned by Aurora Energy in conjunction with the Commerce Commission to carry out an independent engineering review of the electricity networks owned and operated by Aurora Energy in Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes.

The independent reviewer, WSP, is one of the world's leading engineering consulting firms The independent review was led by Michael Van Doornik who is Manager of its Victorian team based in Melbourne.

WSP provided interim findings from its assessment to Aurora Energy and the Commerce Commission at the end of August 2018 and those emerging views were incorporated into Aurora Energy’s 2018 Asset Management Plan, published on 19 October.

For more information:

Executive Summary - WSP Independent Review of Aurora Energy Electricity Networks (PDF) - 31 October 2018

WSP Presentation slides (PDF) for media briefing on 31 October 2018

Aurora Energy Presentation slides (PDF) for media briefing on 31 October 2018