Delta ignored warning

Grady Cameron.
Grady Cameron.
Delta was warned six years ago about the exact scenario unfolding now involving rotting power poles, but failed to act.

The warning, in a review by LineTech Consultants, which was given to the Otago Daily Times by a fresh source, has prompted renewed calls for Delta and Aurora chief executive Grady Cameron to resign over his failure to address the issues it clearly signalled.

Senior consultant Alastair Glyn-Jones said in the review unless Delta significantly accelerated pole replacement it would be forced in the ''immediate future'' to replace ''very large numbers of poles'' in a short time.

This is exactly what the company is now doing with its $30 million programme to replace almost 3000 poles by the end of next year, which was announced after whistleblower Richard Healey accused it of dangerously mismanaging its network.

Mr Glyn-Jones predicted as many as 32,406 poles would need replacing in the 10 years from 2010, which would have required a 20-fold increase in the number of poles replaced per year.

Even if a ''very optimistic'' approach was taken, a five-fold increase in pole replacements was needed.

''In summary, it is our view, based on the data provided and inspection checks carried out, that there is an ageing pole population that is not being replaced at an appropriate rate to ensure that a major problem (and associated costs) does not occur in the next few years.''

The anonymous source who leaked the review said it laid out in ''black and white'' the problems Delta was facing in managing Aurora's network and the failure to properly address them was ''inexcusable''.

It was more evidence Mr Cameron, who had been in the job for about year and a-half when the report was written for Delta, should take responsibility for the situation the Dunedin City Council-owned companies were in.

''Somebody, somewhere has stopped that report being actioned [and] it's got to be Grady, surely.''

Aurora and Delta spokesman Gary Johnson said Mr Cameron commissioned the report soon after his appointment with the purpose of identifying how asset management could be improved.

Mr Johnson did not respond to questions about why the pole replacement programme had not been ramped up to the extent suggested by Mr Glyn-Jones or whether Mr Cameron should take responsibility for not heeding its warnings.

Instead, he highlighted the changes Delta had made since 2010, which included adding specialist asset management roles and increasing its maintenance budget.

The review said an accelerated programme such as the one Aurora had announced would result in logistical issues and additional costs.

It pointed to a situation in Lower Hutt where a lines company was forced to push through a similar programme, which like Aurora's plan involved bringing in outside resources.

''The costs were significantly above the normal routine pole replacement costs as the contractors were able to extract premiums for being available and willing to provide resources, as well as the need to cover staff costs of travel and accommodation.''

Mr Glyn-Jones also raised wider issues about maintenance of Aurora's network, saying it had ''lower than optimum'' staff numbers working on asset maintenance.

''There is a vicious circle that can develop where staff [are] overloaded, and focus on the day-to-day challenges and requirements.

''Some of the longer-term requirements for analysis, forecasting and trend analysis are thus neglected, and problem areas such as the vegetation and poles are not fully appreciated until they become a significant problem.''

Mr Healey said the review had proven to be ''spookily'' accurate in predicting the scenario Aurora and Delta were facing.

The review was evidence Mr Cameron's actions went beyond ''wilful ignorance'' and were in the category of ''feathering your own nest at the risk of other people's wellbeing''.

Mr Healey said Delta did not make significant changes to the number of poles it replaced per year until four years after receiving the review.

In the past two years it had replaced 802 compromised poles, which roughly represented a doubling of previous replacement levels.

However, the increase was nowhere near the suggestion in the review that at the very least a five-fold increase was needed.

Comments

And it is time to go . . . But before you leave make sure you give back some of your wages and return any bonus payments that the rate payers have paid you to do a job that you have only been doing 1/2 pie. Seriously what ever companies the DCC has doing work that the old DCC departments use to do because they were losing money or what ever reason they were contracted (what ever you want to call it) need to be reviewed, these same companies need to be openly reporting on certain things to the Mayor, one such thing is Critical Maintenance that is deferred. Such companies now have Dunedin by the balls and it looks like nobody is being held accountable. The Accountability need to be placed back with the Mayor and DCC. Surely the DCC must be monitoring / auditing the work carried by such companies to ensure it is done, We could end up in the dark and there is nothing the DCC could do if Delta went belly up. Have all these companies been given the licence to print money? it looks that way. I must say all I see around town is these flash new cars with Delta on them, 100's of them are they all needed, are they all on call?

The public of Dunedin & NZ need to stop and take stock of what Greater Dunedin is facing here.. a real potential for collapse of the electricity infrastructure. Possibly catastrophic in locations.. To achieve 3000 poles in thirteen months?? Loose figures arrive at approximately ten line trucks and gangs, all day every day for this period?? With no distractions like weather events or motor vehicles taking out the odd pole. Unless a seriously increased inject of resources takes place this situation cannot be recovered with NZ resources that are already routinely operating outside their home turf across the nation. Where each regional 'Power Board' used to resource for the regional needs, these have all been wound right back nationwide and now 100% reliant on mobility of gangs. Often chasing weather events round the country. Air NZ & KiwiRail / Interislander corporate parallels?? Yep! Here we go again.. 'Budget Bill' English might get an invite to the next rates review meeting..

Nothing short of this man's resignation will do, accompanied by Mr Cull, the so called mayor of the city . . . people are angry and quite rightly so.

 

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