The questions we asked Delta/Aurora

Grady Cameron.
Grady Cameron.
Aurora Energy and its sister company Delta have had another rough couple of weeks as allegations they have mismanaged Dunedin and Central Otago’s power network continue to mount. The two companies regularly choose not to answer questions posed by the Otago Daily Times. Here are some of those questions, which chief executive Grady Cameron belatedly responded to yesterday.

1. Does Delta and Aurora chief executive Grady Cameron stand by his suggestion the state of the poles does not make the network unsafe?

2. Are the close to 3000 red-tagged poles just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the number of compromised poles?

3. Has Delta been guilty of "spin" and trying to minimise the enormity of the issues it faces over safety and network maintenance?

Mr Cameron: "In response to question one to three. We take a risk-based approach to managing the network by assessing each critical asset class. We know there are challenges with managing and operating an aged network that at times can present a higher level of risk. Renewal of the Aurora Energy network is under way and is being accelerated, which is why we have in place a $417 million asset renewal and maintenance plan to address those risks. We acknowledge the dedication and professionalism of our people as they work safely on the Aurora Energy network. The performance and safety of the network are the subject of independent reviews by Dunedin City Holdings Ltd, the Energy Safety Service of WorkSafe NZ and the Commerce Commission. We are providing information for those reviews and will wait till they are complete. In the meantime we’re continuing to upgrade the network and maintain services.’’

4. If there was no safety risk [as Delta marketing and communications manager Gary Johnson claimed in an email] from the downed line in Tainui, why did the line clearly leave burn marks on the ground and why did Delta workers go to people’s homes to check they were safe?

Mr Cameron: "When any electricity infrastructure fails, there is always a potential risk to staff or public in the immediate vicinity. In this case, the safety protection worked as it was designed to and cut power immediately it contacted the ground. The line was live until it came in contact with the ground and that’s why we advise to treat any power lines or cables as live and for people to keep well away from the area until we can send someone to make sure it is safe. As we responded on 16 November, our inspectors checked the system before power was restored at midday because of the risk that the falling line may have contacted domestic services and impacted on properties, which it did not. It is normal and good practice to make such checks."

5. What is Delta’s response to the suggestion from two current staff that most people who work in the field support Richard Healey’s stance and think it is a good thing he went public?

Mr Cameron: "The feedback I have received from our people in the field is that they welcome the increased investment being planned for the Aurora Energy network."

6. Is it correct that far fewer staff  than usual had indicated they wanted to go to the Christmas party this year?

Mr Cameron: "The decision was made after consulting with a number of staff and possible attendance numbers were not a factor in the decision as it was still early in the planning."

Questions on the topic of potheads, after one failed on a power pole in Mornington on Tuesday:

7.  How many potheads are in the local power network?

8. How many of these are potentially dangerous?

9. Is there a plan to remove them, and if so, how many have been removed so far?

10. Whistleblower Richard Healey has likened the substance to napalm if someone is covered in it. What is Delta doing to manage this significant public safety hazard?

Mr Cameron: "In response to question seven to 10. There are approximately 450 of the pothead cable terminations you refer to remaining. When poles with potheads on them are replaced so are the cable terminations modernised and as such the accelerated investment in pole replacement will lift the progress in modernising cable terminations. Potheads have been on the Aurora Energy network for a long time and fail very rarely. In the rare event that they fail, there is the potential that some could present a risk to staff or public in the immediate vicinity. As far as we know, all are operating as they should, and yes, there is a plan to replace them in a structured manner as part of the network renewal programme."

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