Ageing power poles may hit homeowners in the pocket. Some
power poles are privately owned and homeowners are
responsible for their upkeep and replacement, even if they
are unaware of it. Photo by ODT files.
Ageing power poles may create a costly headache for some
Some homeowners may own the power poles which supply their
houses and are therefore responsible for the poles'
maintenance and replacement.
It was an issue which was complex and did not have much
''visibility'' and homeowners should ensure they were aware
of what they owned, Delta general manager asset management
Derek Todd said.
About 1000 power poles (3.4% of all poles) in Dunedin owned
by Aurora Energy are ''red-tagged'' - in need of possible
replacement within three months.
But the number of privately owned power poles was unknown, as
was the number which needed replaced.
In general, if a pole was installed before 1984, it would be
owned by Aurora Energy.
However, chances were if a pole was installed after 1984, was
on private property and fed one house, it was the property of
the homeowner, Mr Todd said.
''We encourage people to contact us to clarify the ownership
issue, The owner is responsible for those checks [on the
condition of the pole], but we offer the homeowner assistance
for that too.''
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand Otago spokeswoman Liz
Nidd said she became aware of the issue earlier this month.
It generally affected ''leg-in properties''.
An electrical inspector approached by the Otago Daily
Times said the issue was increasingly common.
''People are finding out about it as poles get older and
start falling over,'' the man, who wished to remain
While a replacement pole could cost about $4000, doing
nothing could be more costly as it affected homeowners'
ability to get insurance.
The house would not pass an electrical inspection report if
the poles on the section were not up to standard, although he
had ''not struck that particular issue yet''.
It could also delay sale of properties and most homeowners
would not be aware they were responsible for the state of the
poles, he said.
Ms Nidd believed homeowners and prospective home buyers
needed to clarify the ownership of poles which fed their
house before it affected the house's sale or ability to be
''There needs to be a level of awareness that there hasn't
been previously,'' she said.
''I have been in the industry for over 25 years and I had
never heard of this.''
Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner Judi Jones said
power-pole ownership was a complicated issue and needed to be
managed on a case-by-case basis.
''There's a view in the industry that all service lines and
poles were transferred to homeowners. That's not true,'' she
In some cases, legislation passed as early as 1908 could
affect the ownership of power poles and homeowners being
asked to foot the bill should seek advice, she said.
Mr Todd added that different areas' line companies had
interpreted the laws and regulations differently, so he
advised prospective and new homeowners to clarify ownership
if they had concerns.