Irate over power-cut issues

Staff and owners of Wakari businesses (from left) Tony and Heather Cummings, Jo Stacey, and...
Staff and owners of Wakari businesses (from left) Tony and Heather Cummings, Jo Stacey, and Lawrence Anthony are all angry at Aurora Energy over the way it communicated with them over a planned power outage. Photo Gregor Richardson
A group of Wakari businesses are furious with Aurora over its lack of communication over a planned power-cut which never happened.

However, Aurora has defended its communication and says a ''highly unusual'' circumstance where a member of the public - reportedly on methamphetamine - interfered with workers on Saturday morning was responsible for the work in Dunedin being called off at the last minute.

Barbecue Bill owner Tony Cummings was not satisfied with the explanation and questioned why he and other Taieri Rd business owners were not contacted when the work was called off.

The lack of communication resulted in the neighbouring dairy and service station losing trading hours after they decided to close for the day rather than pay hundreds of dollars for generators.

The dairy and service station would have lost more hours had Mr Cummings' wife Heather not made contact after noticing the power was still on.

Mr Cummings said he received no explanation for why the power cut was called off until yesterday, when he was told by an Aurora representative people on methamphetamine had accosted its workers and police had to be called.

He questioned whether the incident needed to result in no work being done for the whole day and why it was not done on Sunday, which was listed as the alternative date in the notice he and others had received.

Aurora's communication over the planned power cut had shown ''absolute incompetence'' and smacked of ''arrogance''.

The poor communication included him receiving a letter from Aurora to his nearby residential address yesterday notifying him of the power cut, after the date had already passed.

Delta general manager of operations and risk John Campbell defended Aurora's communication around the planned outage to replace two poles in Wakari.

It advised electricity retailers of the work more than 10 days ahead of the planned outage, as required by regulations, Mr Campbell said.

''Unfortunately, in this instance a member of the public interfered with the team working on site, to the extent that the police were called and the outage had to be deferred.

''Aurora Energy apologises to the households and businesses who may have been impacted by the highly unusual circumstances around this deferral.''

Aurora advised customers of planned outages in advance through their electricity retailers, in notices in the Otago Daily Times and on its website.

''We are currently working on improvements to real time notification of the status of planned outages via our website, including completions and cancellations.''

Aurora and its sister company Delta, which carries out work on its behalf, did not respond to a question about whether it should compensate businesses for the cost of generators or lost trading hours.

Wakari Lotto and Post Centre worker Jo Stacey said its workers wasted time taking ice creams out of freezers after deciding a $700 bill for a generator was too much.

She believed it was unfair Aurora was not paying for the cost of generators given it was its choice to turn the power off.

The lack of communication meant it opened an hour and a-half late on a busy trading day.

Anthony Motors owner Lawrence Anthony also slammed Aurora over its lack of communication, which resulted in his business losing more than two hours of trading.

Apart from the lost trading hours, he and the others had spent a lot of time making arrangements for the outage, which they would now have to do again.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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