Aurora Energy Chair Steve Thompson said that progress on the programme, which began in November last year, has been very pleasing given its scale and complexity.
"To date, 2,260 poles, or nearly 80 per cent, of the 2,910 identified for replacement, remediation or reassessment by the end of 2017 have been completed. That represents a significant reduction in network risk.
"We have prioritised work in and around public places such as schools and high pedestrian traffic areas. The programme is on track to remove the risk of the remaining 650 condition 0 and 1 poles by the end of this year.
"Combined with scheduled maintenance activities, Aurora Energy has replaced, repaired or reassessed more than 3,580 poles of which 2,485 have been physically replaced, since November last year.
"That is a great achievement made possible by the sterling efforts of line crews from across New Zealand and locally. Up to 23 teams are currently working to upgrade poles across the network. We look forward to providing a detailed summary of what has been achieved at the conclusion of the Fast Track programme in December.
"The public can take confidence in the integrity of the current methods Aurora Energy is using for pole testing and pole identification (or tagging). Both have been reviewed and approved by independent engineering experts to verify that they are robust, consistent and meet the required regulatory standards.
"Performing work of this nature safely requires power outages and Aurora Energy works closely with electricity retailers to let customers know in advance if their power is going to be off. We thank electricity customers for their patience while we carry out this work. We know the end result will have been worth the increase in outages, for worker safety and to maintain the reliability of the network.
"The $30 million Fast Track pole programme is part of Aurora Energy’s large-scale asset renewal programme. Our electricity network, while one of the more reliable in the country, is getting old and needs renewing.
"Aurora Energy is planning to spend more than $720 million in the Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes districts over the next decade on maintenance and capital upgrades to ensure future safety and reliability. The bulk of the ten-year expenditure, $347 million, is allocated to asset renewal including poles, replacement of ageing subtransmission cables and an upgrade of overhead lines.
"Our pole inspection and renewal programme will continue beyond the end of the Fast Track pole programme and we plan to renew 14,000 poles over the next decade as they near the end of their useful life. The network is a large and complex asset and there are no quick fixes, but we can and are doing more and faster to ensure its ongoing safety and reliability."
Aurora Energy pole programme: November 2016 to October 2017
|Fast Track pole programme||Fast Track pole programme plus scheduled maintenance|
|Total poles completed||2,260||3,580|
|Repaired or reassessed using independently verified methods||735||1,095|