Delta #EpicPowerFail 10 : Grady Cameron : The Counterfeit Comet

Received from Christchurch Driver [CD]
Thu, 16 Feb 2017 at 12:15 a.m.

Dear Readers

Local cyberspace has run hot tonight with the news that Grady Cameron has finally taken Richard Healey’s advice and fallen on one of his many splintered power poles, tendering his resignation. But just like a funhouse hall of mirrors, nothing at Aurora/Delta is as it seems. Mr Cameron is leaving later not sooner. It should be sooner, much sooner, like now.

As pointed out several times by Jarrod Stewart and Richard Healey, Grady is entirely the wrong individual to “oversee the transition process, along with the accelerated pole programme now under way”, which was the vague treacle proffered by Gary Gyroscope Johnson and Mr Thompson as an excuse for Mr Cameron to cling on for another year.

What the somewhat dim Mr Thompson does not know is that most of Delta already know what provision for early termination is in Grady’s package, and it is….12 months’ salary. (Hard to keep anything secret at Delta these days, Mr Thompson!) Go on, refute that “unfounded speculation”, Mr Gyroscope!

Therefore Mr Thompson had the two terminally unattractive options of 1) Paying Grady $600,000 to do nothing or 2) Paying Grady $600,000 to hang around and pretend that his help is “appreciated”. Chairman Thompson knew he would be sacked if he agreed to pay Grady $600,000 to do nothing, because What if? Dunedin and many others would find out in short order, and it would be curtains for Mr Thompson – sooner rather than later. However, Mr Thompson has made an elementary error. When you sack someone, get them gone. This is not Personnel Management 101, it’s 001. Despite $600,000 being a lot of cash, it was still the right thing to do because Grady’s other great failure as CEO was to preside over the accelerated decline of the staff at Delta.


It is past the tipping point and on its way to collapse, and if Grady stays another year collapse it will. At this stage in your correspondent’s post, the Greek chorus begins, accompanied by the rattling cups of Choysa : Evidence, evidence, give us the factual evidence!

Very well readers, have the Gaviscon ready, here are some stomach turning informational nuggets to show the appalling state of the Delta engineering department, the essential core of the organisation. Desk executive types like Grady and Matt Ballard can come and go, but the engineers make the place run.

While Mr Gyroscope and Mr Thompson trumpeted the two new external appointments today, they failed to mention that there are 45 vacancies – yes 45, that is 4 lots of 10 plus 5, Steve, at Delta.

Your correspondent understands these are in the main technical positions that any reputable company will have trouble filling, let alone a basket case like Delta.

Very recently, a capable senior design engineer was asked by either Matt Ballard or Grady “What would it take to get you to stay?”, as they had been alerted that the engineer was about to vote with his feet. “Nothing could convince me to stay” was the response and the engineer who was in the prime of his career and had worked for Delta for 6-7 years, departed to the North Island.

Next fact: There are now fewer than 10 design engineers left at Delta. There will be one less tomorrow because another resigned today but hadn’t advised The Management.

Alarming fact : Your correspondent is advised that of those left, at least three already have plans in place to leave that are not negotiable.

Strange but true : A design engineer recently resigned. Mule-like, Mr Cameron and his cohorts “refused to acknowledge his resignation”. This would appear to be code for “we will pay you absolutely anything you want because we know we will get no applicants for your position”, much like the example above. We can conclude from the example with Derek Todd quoted in #EpicPowerFail 9 that the practical limit is a tripling in salary.

There’s more : After deducting out those engineers, there are others actively looking to leave also. We can know this with confidence as a Wellington power company advertised a position for a design engineer recently. The recruiter called a contact at Delta and asked “What the heck is going on down there – we have had 4 applications and 3 of them are from Delta !!”

Grady’s response to this is to hire engineers from around the world, and try and fill engineering positions with “Project Managers” (Godfrey Brosnan is just the latest example). This is not to denigrate those with overseas qualifications or from a different culture but as Richard Healey notes, this is a dangerous high risk industry and ‘culture’ is important. Experienced local engineers with institutional knowledge and memory are priceless – and absolutely essential. The legacy of Grady and successive incompetent boards is that Delta and Aurora, are very likely to be left with somewhere between very few and almost none.

Your correspondent is given to understand that there is a funereal level of staff morale. Many staff around all departments have the view that (Delta)Aurora is only a few more key resignations away from being unable to function as a lines company. Richard Healey may be able to comment further on this.

The common theme from departed staff is that they would not work any longer under the management regime.

Normally your correspondent likes to finish with what he fondly imagines to be a witty riposte, but after surveying the decayed remnants of Aurora, humour is not appropriate. 

Since 2009, Grady Cameron has blazed across our power line landscape like a counterfeit comet. Grady’s disastrous tenure has created a giant financial crater for the city that will have to be made good by ratepayers for around twenty years – most of a generation.  

While not solely responsible, he encouraged a culture of cynical disinterest in the long-term health of the company he was charged with protecting, to flourish.

There is no wit to be had here, but justifiable anger. 


Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

*Image: ODT 16.2.17 Cameron will not seek new role page 3 detail tweaks by whatifdunedin


Filed under Aurora Energy, Business, Central Otago, Construction, Delta, Democracy, Design, Dunedin, Economics, Electricity, Geography, Health, Infrastructure, New Zealand, OAG, Ombudsman, People, Perversion, Pet projects, Politics, Project management, Property, Public interest, Queenstown Lakes, Resource management, SFO, Structural engineering, Technology, Travesty, What stadium

16 responses to “Delta #EpicPowerFail 10 : Grady Cameron : The Counterfeit Comet

  1. Elizabeth

    odt-16-2-17-delta-aurora-ceo-cameron-will-not-seek-new-role-p1-tweakedNot one person apologises

    Thu, 16 Feb 2017
    ODT: Cameron will not seek new role
    Beleaguered Delta and Aurora chief executive Grady Cameron has confirmed he is standing down. Cont/

  2. nick

    The man will have been paid over $3million in 8 years to ruin the culture of an essential infrastructure company, constructively dismiss most of its key staff, oversee the further decay of the network asset, and collect an industry executive award along the way.

    It puts the saying of ‘paying peanuts – getting monkeys’ in a new light.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      ‘Paying peanuts – getting monkeys’ has been disproved SO many times! Why do people still trot it out as justification for obscene salaries?
      Even cycle lane fanatics don’t trot out “the earth is flat” to bolster their claim “create lanes and cycling will become enormously popular.” Some old “truths” haven’t stood up to scrutiny, and the peanut-monkey one is an outstanding example of self-serving nonsense.
      Except Scorpios, everyone knows Scorpios are worth every cent. Or is that Capricorns….?

    • nick

      and He says He ‘is incredibly proud’ of His Delta role.

      The poor man is sadly deluded. His extraordinarily ill-deserved annual salary increases have done nothing but inflate his own ideas of self importance. And the Deloitte award was also a huge disservice to him, making him think he was doing an outstanding job, when everyone else knew otherwise.

      (If Cameron cares to look at Deloitte’s Hall of Fame for Electricity Industry Executives, he will see that those annual awards simply get spread around the country. Every CEO gets one eventually. It was just Aurora’s turn that year.)

  3. Elizabeth

    Received from Douglas (Mick) Field
    Thu, 16 Feb 2017 at 7:23 a.m

    Message: In view of the now imminent demise of the (once) exhalted Grady, I thought you might like to re-use this. You should be able to recognise him on the deck with his resplendent Admiral’s uniform….
    It proves or at least underscores the point I made back in November.

    Douglas Field Published on Nov 5, 2016
    Delta disasters
    This clip lampoons the incompetent so-called management of a company that is owned by the ratepayers of Dunedin. The appointment of such people is reminiscent of the appointment of a prominent bookseller as the First Lord of the Admiralty in the UK –that W.S. Gilbert so stunningly lampooned at the time.

  4. Hype O'Thermia

    Christchurch Driver [CD]: “Experienced local engineers with institutional knowledge and memory are priceless – and absolutely essential. The legacy of Grady and successive incompetent boards is…”
    …Institutional Altzheimers.

  5. Elizabeth

    At Facebook:

  6. Elizabeth

    Situation: CRITICAL
    Delta engineers rapidly diminishing in number.

    Steve Thompson, listen up : Grady has to go NOW

    At Facebook:

  7. Elizabeth

    Excerpts from Richard Healey’s Facebook 16.2.17:


  8. Elizabeth

    More excerpts from Richard Healey’s Facebook 16.2.17:

    [click to enlarge]

  9. nick

    Richard Healey has become the default go-to Health and Safety adviser for imported linesman on the pole replacement program, providing essential information for these new guys on the dangerous job they have taken on. It’s a volunteer role.

    Meantime, Grady Cameron will take his daily office coffee, check his emails, have his meetings with the spin team, write post-it notes to himself and sit out an ineffectual 10 months more as he soaks up his severance of contract salary of $600k.

    And the Cadbury workers face the true reality of what it means to lose their jobs.

    Cheer up Dunedin. Things will get better.

  10. Rumpold

    Did anybody notice what Worksafe had to say (ODT 15/02/2017) about a trailer accident on a public road?

    “A Worksafe spokesman said as the crash was on a public road rather than a workplace it was not subject to a Worksafe investigation.”

    Where does this leave Delta and pole accidents that are the linesman’s workplace, but also on a pubic road ?

    {Link: -Eds}

    • nick

      The public road would probably be a private workplace Rumpold.

      As for Worksafe, I think they are probably trying to find a suitable translator for all the spin that comes from Delta in response to their questions. And probably, they are finding that for the last 3 months, the guy they were talking to yesterday at Delta has also just left the company.

      • nick

        Pubic road Rumpold . . . a very private workplace, involving typically no more than two consenting adults, but possibly needing an employment contract to be in place if it is on K Rd.

  11. Hype O'Thermia

    That’s a hairy situation –
    I’ll get me hat.

  12. Elizabeth

    In this story ODT refers to the “scandal”…. Go Vaughan Elder!
    On Ch39 News, ODT had only got as far as “debacle”.

    See comment by Hype O’Thermia

    Delta is under the pump over its management of Aurora’s electricity network. (ODT)

    Tue, 21 Feb 2017
    ODT: Aurora refuses post-scandal spending report
    Aurora Energy is refusing to reveal how much it has spent on consultants in the aftermath of the dangerous pole scandal. The refusal comes as Aurora and sister company Delta have reportedly been rocked by the resignations of two senior staff members. Aurora/Delta declined an Official Information Act (OIA) request for details on how much it had spent on consultants or external contractors in the wake of the pole scandal, on the basis of commercial sensitivity. However, it did release a list of companies it contracted work to in the aftermath of the scandal. Cont/

    Whistleblower Richard Healey said the latest resignations to rock Delta were its engineering and planning manager Conrad Holland and power systems engineer Rob Douglas.


    At Facebook:

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