Alarm after night of pole failures

A new power pole is put up outside Alexandra's netball courts on Tuesday morning. Photo: Supplied
A new power pole is put up outside Alexandra's netball courts on Tuesday morning. Photo: Supplied
Four power poles in Alexandra fell down on one night this week, prompting the local community board to again demand answers from lines company Aurora.

The Vincent Community Board this week approved an urgent, ''last-minute'' motion from board member Russell Garbutt for board chairwoman Sharleen Stirling-Lindsay to write to Aurora ''to express our concern and disgust'' about the pole failures.

It also requested Aurora reports on other poles that fell in Alexandra and Clyde in 2017-18.

Electricity was cut to 1900 households in the Alexandra and Omakau areas about 7pm on Monday after a high-voltage pole near the Alexandra netball courts fell during high winds.

Crews worked through the night and power was restored at 4.27am on Tuesday.

Three low-voltage poles at the quarry end of Clutha St also fell during the high winds overnight on Monday, cutting power to 90 customers in that area.

Power was restored at about 11am on Tuesday.

Aurora operations and network performance general manager John Campbell said Aurora took ''pole failure in any circumstance very seriously'' and the cause of the poles' failure would be investigated.

But Mr Garbutt said at Tuesday's board meeting he was alarmed by the pole failures.

Mr Garbutt has led other previous questioning of Aurora, after three poles fell down in Alexandra in just over three months in 2017, and one in Clyde about a year later.

An Aurora delegation headed by chief executive Richard Fletcher subsequently gave presentations to the board and Central Otago District Council, earlier this year, after Mr Garbutt challenged Aurora on its pole testing regime, under-investment in the Central Otago region, failing network and lack of accountability.

The delegation outlined Aurora's increasing investment in the Otago network, from $27.1million to $84.5million over the past five years.

Dr Fletcher acknowledged a history of underspending by Aurora but said ''Aurora today is very different from the Aurora two years ago''.

Mr Campbell said Aurora had already committed to an ''ongoing dialogue'' with the board and would ''welcome the opportunity'' to speak to the board about the recent outages.

A planned outage in Lauder on Tuesday was cancelled so customers were not without power for more than 24 hours, he said.

Over the coming week more planned outages would occur in Springvale, Poolburn and Waikerikeri to replace poles, Mr Campbell said.

Comments

Were is workplace or health and safety. It is just criminal to being putting the public in such danger.

Three years after this train wreck started we have the latest in a frightening series of asset failures in Alexandra and STILL Tim Cadogen takes no action on behalf of his community. Even more galling, the customers in Alexandra are paying twice level of line charges as those payed by a typical consumer in Dunedin for the privilege of having these dangerous structures litter their streets.

This is not, and never had been, a simple story of . This is, and always has been, a story of chronic mismanagement.

How Aurora identifies which of its power poles are not up to standard regarding resistance to an acceptable wind speed. Waits for them to fall over. They need more than a SMACK for this!

 

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