29 Oct 2016

Mayor demands answers on rotting power poles

4:54 pm on 29 October 2016

The Central Otago District mayor says it will be totally unacceptable if an investigation into two lines companies finds some power poles in the district are in danger of falling over.

Thousands of rotting power poles are due for replacement in Otago.

Thousands of rotting power poles are due for replacement in Otago. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

An internal investigation was launched following allegations that Delta and Aurora, which are owned by the Dunedin City Council, are failing to clear a backlog of about 3000 rotting and failing poles.

The poles have been identified in Alexandra, Cromwell, Frankton, Queenstown, Wanaka and Dunedin.

Central Otago District mayor Tim Cadogan said he was expecting to be told how serious the issue is next week.

"I want clarity as to what 'dangerous' means, I want absolute clarity on how many poles in my district are liable, or have any degree of liability to falling over. That's my number one priority. If we have a wind event, is that going to cause power poles to fall over in my district, causing danger to people."

The issue was raised by Dunedin lines company manager turned whistle-blower Richard Healey, who said the companies were spending millions of dollars less than they should on essential pole replacement in Dunedin and Central Otago.

The investigations are being carried out by Dunedin City Holdings, WorkSafe New Zealand and the Commerce Commission.

Aurora has confirmed it has more than 2900 failing power poles needing replacement, and said it was reviewing its maintenance programmes.