Pole request not 'overly reactionary'

Grady Cameron.
Grady Cameron.
Seeking more information about the risk posed by dangerous power poles on Central Otago District Council-managed land is not being ''overly reactionary'', the council's chief executive says.

The council has asked Aurora Energy to provide more details on the location of potentially dangerous poles in the Central Otago network, how the poles are classified and any mitigation measures required in the interim.

Lines company Aurora and infrastructure company Delta have been under the spotlight after claims many power poles in its network are unsafe and present a danger to the public. The matter was on the agenda at this week's council audit and risk committee meeting.

Of the 2910 compromised poles identified, the majority of them - 1930 - are in Central Otago and the Queenstown-Lakes district.

Council chief executive Leanne Mash said the council had a legal responsibility to take all precautions to ensure people were safe on and around its roadways and council-managed land.

''I think that's a due and proper action ... There's not a lot of information forthcoming.

''Our duty of care is to those on our road reserves and we want to understand what the potential risks are.''

In response to an earlier council letter about the rate of pole replacement, Aurora chief executive Grady Cameron outlined the ''fast-tracking'' of the $30.4million pole replacement programme. All poles classified as condition zero or condition one were being rechecked and poles near schools and high-density public areas, including Alexandra, Cromwell, Roxburgh and Clyde townships, would be replaced first, Mr Cameron said in a letter to the council.

Aurora was taking the steps to ''restore public confidence in our network safety'', he said.

Linda Robertson, of Queenstown, is the independent chairwoman of the council's audit and risk committee.

When members declared their interest in various organisations at the start of the meeting, she noted she was a director of Dunedin City Holdings Ltd (DCHL), which owns Aurora and Delta.

She chaired the meeting through the agenda items, including the power pole report.

Cr Neil Gillespie said the Otago Daily Times front-page story about the agenda item last week was ''not particularly helpful'' at this time. DCHL was reviewing the claims against Delta and Aurora.

A condition-zero power pole at Kelvin Heights was replaced by Delta yesterday after one of the lines attached to it came down on Friday afternoon.

The Otago Daily Times understands a second pole, next to it, will also be replaced in the coming days.

The live 11,000-volt line fell on an access track to the Kelvin Peninsula Trail about 3pm on Friday, setting fire to vegetation and cutting power to about 1000 customers.

Delta communications manager Gary Johnson said power was turned off to 635 Kelvin Heights customers at 9.30am yesterday so the pole could be replaced. It was restored about 7pm.

The pole replaced yesterday was initially installed in 1978 and had last been inspected in July.

-Additional reporting by Tracey Roxburgh

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