Hydro shutdowns disturbing

The Talla Burn power station was officially opened yesterday and has been named after the project...
The Talla Burn power station. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
A small-scale Central Otago energy generator says he only learnt he needed to temporarily shut off his power when he read the newspaper on Saturday.

Talla Burn Generation near Beaumont had to shut down its generator yesterday so Aurora Energy could replace a power pole on its network.

Director Jeff Wilson said he was officially informed about the shutdown on Tuesday afternoon, four days after he saw it advertised in the Otago Daily Times.

Aurora had contacted him about a month ago to say the company was planning an outage but there had been no official confirmation until yesterday, he said.

Mr Wilson's network ran parallel to the Aurora from the generator to Ettrick where it then connected to Aurora's network through to Roxburgh and Clyde.

"I pay a $100,000 connection charge, but regularly they cut us off so they can do some maintenance on some poles.

"That makes me really grumpy, because I don't get paid if we're not generating."

Each time the power generation was shut down it cost the company thousands of dollars in lost revenue and reconfiguration, and it had been happening every two or three months for past 18 months, he said.

Because the hydro-electric power was generated by a water race the generator had to be shut down four hours earlier, affecting about 1000 customers.

Mr Wilson said he had tried to contact Aurora chief executive Richard Fletcher about the situation several times, but had only finally managed to talk to him, briefly, yesterday morning.

He had also contacted the
Commerce Commission and the Electricity Network Association about the situation.

"I don't think they're playing the game fair.

"I don't think I should be penalised because they've let their network get to a state where it's in a terrible state."

In a statement, Aurora Energy operations and service delivery general manager John Campbell said the lines company had tried to co-ordinate its planned line maintenance work with Talla Burn's planned maintenance shutdown but had not agreed to any arrangements in writing.

There was always room for improvement and Aurora would meet Mr Wilson soon to review how to better co-ordinate planned maintenance works, Mr Campbell said.

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