Three downed poles 'extraordinary'

A new pole stands where an older wooden pole toppled over on Ventry St, Alexandra, on Tuesday night. Photo: Tom Kitchin
A new pole stands where an older wooden pole toppled over on Ventry St, Alexandra, on Tuesday night. Photo: Tom Kitchin
There are fresh concerns for public safety after the collapse of three power poles in Alexandra since August.

Power was cut to parts of the Central Otago town on Tuesday night after a pole fell in Ventry St about 7.15pm.

A replacement pole was installed by Delta just after midnight.

In August, a pole fell through a fence in Eureka St and another pole collapsed in Chicago St at the end of last month.

Ventry St residents Jack and Jacqui Goyen were sitting on their couch when they saw the pole fall.

They have lived at the property for about 50 years and the pole has been there since they moved in.

The pole was not red-tagged but had been inspected occasionally, the couple said.

Another pole at the front of their property had been red-tagged and recently replaced, Mr Goyen said.

An Aurora Energy spokesman said the lines company took any pole failure seriously and there would be an investigation into why all three poles had collapsed.

The condition assessment and maintenance history of the poles would form part of the investigation, the spokesman said.

Concerns about the safety of the pole network in the Central Otago town have been raised by the Vincent Community Board.

Chairwoman Sharleen Stirling-Lindsay said the issue had been discussed at the last board meeting.

There was real concern for the public's safety and the board had asked the Central Otago District Council to take up the issue with Aurora.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan was unable to be contacted for comment yesterday.

Council chief executive Leanne Marsh said she had been working in Roxburgh and had not had time to look at the minutes from the community board meeting.

Fellow community board member Russell Garbutt said it seemed the lines company was not taking the situation seriously.

''Alexandra is a relatively small town, so to have three downed poles since August is extraordinary and just a real risk to public safety.''

It was only luck nobody had been killed by the downed poles, Mr Garbutt said.

At the very least he wanted Aurora to reconsider the way it assessed its poles.

But the Aurora spokesman said the pole-testing method had been independently assessed and verified by engineering specialists.

Aurora was happy to discuss any issues the board members had about the safety of the poles in Alexandra, the spokesman said.


Electricity industry rules required the pole that failed to be tested immediately before the pole on the street was replaced a few weeks ago. In other words, the pole that failed was tested using Aurora's "verified" testing techniques within the last few weeks - and found to be safe.

Perhaps the ODT would like to dig a little deeper into that proposition, with a company whose board and owners claim to be forging a new, open and honest conversation with the public. As Santa would say, ho ho ho.