Issue not for authority: minister

Megan Woods. Photo: RNZ
Megan Woods. Photo: RNZ
Energy Minister Megan Woods says under-investment in Aurora Energy’s network has resulted in safety and reliability issues but is not a matter for the Electricity Authority.

She made the acknowledgement in a letter sent to Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan on Monday.

The reply is in response to a letter sent to her by Mr Cadogan on June 29.

In his letter, Mr Cadogan requested the Electricity Authority review Aurora’s ability to provide a level of service to Clyde and surrounds that met legal requirements and a reasonable standard of supply following an power cut to the town on June 14.

Dr Woods made no such undertaking in her reply.

Instead, she referred to the Commerce Commission considering Aurora’s application to fund planned work to improve the network’s safety and reliability and said she believed the commission was the most appropriate avenue to review the level of service to Central Otago rather than the Electricity Authority.

"I have empathy for the difficulties your community has faced without power.

"Nobody wants to be without power, especially for an extended period during cold weather, as was the case in Clyde recently."

However, she said "no power supply is 100% reliable".

"Every power supply is susceptible to extreme weather and equipment failure.

"At the same time, we all expect reasonable power reliability."

Dr Woods said Aurora had assured her it had made progress to remedy the under-investment and was looking to do more in the next three to five years.

"It is working through a backlog of investment to improve safety and reliability, with the highest priorities first."

The Government had established a regulatory system to help ensure safety and reliability, with "the highest priorities first", she said.

Mr Cadogan said the minister’s response highlighted even more the importance of the Central Otago community engaging with the Commerce Commission process, either through its website or via the public drop in sessions scheduled for August 10 in Alexandra and August 11 in Cromwell.

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