RNZ Morning Report: Damning indictment of Aurora Energy #Listen

Aurora Energy has not maintained the lines utility because for years the company passed over lines profits in the form of dividends to DCC and subvention payments to cover Stadium debt servicing. Central Otago power users faced silly-huge increases in their lines charges. Otago power users, generally, having already paid for upgrades and renewals through their lines charges, have regrettably lost their safe and secure supply of electricity, and must now pay twice. The people responsible for this critical state of affairs need to explain and face the consequences.

How does this stack up for the Commerce Commission, the industry regulator ?

### rnz.co.nz Mon 12 Jun 2017
Morning Report with Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson
8:47 AM Many electric lines companies have outdated equipment -ComCom Link
A report by the Commerce Commission says many electric lines companies have outdated equipment that should have been replaced years ago. Our reporter Eric Frykberg has been looking into it.
Audio | Download: Ogg MP3 (3′29″)


Commerce Commission New Zealand
Media Release 9 June 2017

The Commerce Commission has published one-page summaries of key performance measures for each of New Zealand’s 29 electricity lines companies.
The summaries are designed to promote a better understanding of each lines company’s performance by providing high-level statistics such as profitability, capital and operating expenditure, asset condition, revenue and network reliability.
Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said that the Commission has pulled together the data to make it easily accessible for industry, Government agencies and consumers, and to enable comparison across lines companies. The statistics are sourced from more detailed public disclosures.
“Electricity companies reach every New Zealand household and business so over time we want to make it easier for consumers to understand how their own lines company is performing year-on-year. The information in the summaries is still quite technical in nature, but we expect this kind of exposure will in itself help improve lines companies’ overall performance,” Dr Gale said.
“The summaries are a high-level snapshot of the lines companies and are not intended to represent a thoroughly detailed picture of performance. However, they suggest some differences between the performances of different lines companies, such as the health of assets including poles, lines and substation equipment. In cases of apparent poor performance, we will follow up with the companies to better understand their circumstances. We will also undertake further analysis in the future.”
The performance summaries are available on the Commission’s website.


Performance summaries for electricity distributors
Under Part 4 of the Commerce Act these 29 electricity distributors are required to publicly disclose information to help people better understand how the sector is performing.

Click areas on the [interactive map at the ComCom website] to download the distributors’ 2016 performance summaries.

[screenshot only]

The performance summaries provide high level statistics on each lines companies’ performance, including measures such as profitability, capital and operating expenditure, asset condition, line charge revenue and network reliability.

See more details in the documents below.
← Back to Performance analysis and data for distributors

Explanatory notes for electricity distributors’ performance summaries – May 2017
(PDF, 464 KB) Published on 31 May 2017

Total electricity distribution 2016 – June 2017
(PDF, 488 KB) Published on 06 June 2017

Performance summaries for electricity distributors – May 2017
(MS Excel Spreadsheet, 2.1 MB) Published on 31 May 2017


[screenshot, details]

Aurora Energy 2016 One Page summary

█ View Online: http://www.comcom.govt.nz/assets/Downloads/Aurora-Energy-2016-one-page-summary.pdf

█ For more, enter the terms *aurora*, delta*, *poles*, *healey* or *dchl* in the search box at right.

Disclaimer. The site owner is not responsible for the currency or accuracy of content of contributed comments; and the inclusion of the information provided does not imply endorsement by the site owner.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.


Filed under Aurora Energy, Business, Central Otago, Commerce Commission, Construction, DCC, DCHL, Delta, Democracy, Design, Dunedin, Economics, Education, Electricity, Finance, Geography, Health & Safety, Hot air, Infrastructure, Media, Name, New Zealand, OAG, Ombudsman, People, Perversion, Pet projects, Politics, Project management, Property, Public interest, Queenstown Lakes, Resource management, SFO, Stadiums, Structural engineering, Technology, Tourism, Town planning, Travesty, Urban design

18 responses to “RNZ Morning Report: Damning indictment of Aurora Energy #Listen

  1. Gurglars

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears that the authority is suggesting that 62% of poles and lines need to be replaced within 5 years.

    Aurora are planning on replacing at 0.3% per annum.

    At my calculations it will take 200 years plus to replace the poles and lines the authority recommend happens in 5 years.

  2. Elizabeth

    Grady Cameron’s head pops up over the parapet.
    Where has he been ?!
    Of course Grady can keep smiling on his pay, even if his Aurora Board headed by Steve Thompson (described elsewhere at this website by CD) can’t meet the true cost of all upgrades and renewals required. The unsightly matter of the annual report showing Aurora has only $4,000 in cash reserves.

    So yes, the happy life for Grady til just before Xmas when he must clear his desk. No doubt friends will offer a nice cushy corporate job somewhere else (that’s what the GOBs do) ….as Otago ratepayers and power consumers face the worst of what surely follows. The crime is such.

    Consumers will pay through the nose because Grady had his eye off the main job during his (thanks Deloitte !!!!! ‘award winning’) performance as chief executive of not one but two mired council owned companies, Aurora and Delta.

    God knows Grady and the A/D Board part-bought us a dead stadium.


    At Facebook:


    On many measures Aurora Energy was rated among the worst lines companies in New Zealand on both average age of its assets and overall condition.

    Tue, 13 Jun 2017
    ODT: Aurora assets among worst
    By Vaughan Elder
    Aurora Energy is among the worst lines companies in New Zealand when it comes to the state of its assets, Commerce Commission data shows. Recently published summaries on the state of  New Zealand’s 29 lines companies showed ageing power poles are among the least of Aurora’s problems when it comes to risk. The condition of its overhead lines, subtransmission lines and cables, switchgear and substation transformers were all rated by the commission as  a “potential risk”. Some other lines companies also performed poorly, but none had so many asset categories rated as a potential risk. Cont/

    Of Aurora’s substation transformers, 46% were past their expected use-by date, as was 46.6% of its substation switchgear.

    █ View Online: http://www.comcom.govt.nz/assets/Downloads/Aurora-Energy-2016-one-page-summary.pdf

  3. Elizabeth

    ### rnz.co.nz Tue 13 Jun 2017
    Morning Report with Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson
    8:52 AM Electricity distributors rebut outdated equipment allegations Link
    In its survey of 29 electric lines companies, the Commerce Commission found some had power poles, transformers and switching gear in use long past their usual life expectency. The electricity distribution industry says the normal life expectancy of electrical gear does not reflect how well it is actually working, as some equipment lasts longer than others. Eric Frykberg reports.
    Audio | Download: Ogg MP3 (3′31″)

  4. Elizabeth

    Commissioner Stephen Gale said the data was intended to keep companies technically up to scratch…. “The companies are accountable for the reliability of the networks and where we see the networks getting older, we will go the companies and look to see that they are going to remedy that.

    ### radionz.co.nz 11:58 am on 12 June 2017
    RNZ News
    New Zealand energy
    Lines companies found to have outdated equipment
    By Eric Frykberg – Transport, Energy & Resource Infrastructure Reporter
    Electric lines companies are under scrutiny for having what the Commerce Commission calls antiquated equipment. The information comes in a survey of the technical performance of all 29 electricity distribution companies. The information was gathered by the companies themselves and passed on to the commission, which is required by law to monitor their performance. This data has now been collated into a single publication by the commission. It covers the period up to the end of March 2016, and includes the time when Otago lines company Aurora was engulfed in a storm of controversy over rotting power poles. The figures show that at that time, 30.7 percent of all power poles in the district were past their use-by date. Aurora has since pledged to spend $30.25 million on network upgrades, and said the work would be done by the end of this year. But the Commerce Commission indicates Aurora has more to deal with than its power poles. Work was also needed on overhead and underground cables, along with transformers and switching gear, it found. For example, 46 percent of substation transformers were past their use-by date, and 46.6 percent of substation switching gear had the same problem. Aurora was not the only company with issues….
    Read more


    In its report, the Commerce Commission looked at how often the power failed in each area, as well as how old the assets were.

    Minister of Energy Judith Collins said the findings that some company equipment was in serious need of replacement sent a clear message that boards of those companies needed to focus on their core responsibilities.

    ### radionz.co.nz 9:00 am on 13 June 2017
    RNZ News
    New Zealand energy
    Electricity distributors defend use of ‘outdated equipment’
    By Eric Frykberg – Transport, Energy & Resource Infrastructure Reporter
    The electricity distribution industry is defending itself against suggestions that it sometimes uses outdated equipment that should have been replaced years ago. The Electricity Networks Association said the normal life expectancy of electrical gear did not reflect how well it was actually working, as some equipment lasted longer than others. The comments followed critical remarks about the industry from the Commerce Commission.
    In its survey of 29 electric lines companies, the Commerce Commission found some were using power poles, transformers and switching gear long past their usual life expectency. In one case, as many as 50 percent of substation transformers were being worked beyond their use-by date. But the chief executive of the Electricity Networks Association, Graeme Peters said the actual age of electrical gear was not the point. “Some of these assets can be affected by a whole range of things, the climate, the soil condition, temperature, whether salt is present and how much loading it has had,” Mr Peters said. “So there are all sorts of factors (that affect this), not just the age of the asset.” Graeme Peters added the official retirement age of company equipment sometimes derived from the rules of accountancy rather than the actual workability of the gear….
    Electricity is a ‘fundamental lifeline’
    Meanwhile, the lines companies will face further scrutiny. The Electricity Authority is currently working on its own analysis of their work and promised a statement later.And the president of Local Government New Zealand Lawrence Yule said lines companies had no option but to get their business right….
    Read more

    • Hype O'Thermia

      “The Electricity Networks Association said the normal life expectancy of electrical gear did not reflect how well it was actually working, as some equipment lasted longer than others.”
      Fair comment. The same can be said of “Use by” and “Best before” labels on foodstuffs. Best before means it’s OK but probably not as tasty as it was. Use by means for safety reasons….. though for reasons of frugality, disorganisation and because I can’t be arsed building a flying trapeze for my kicks, I’ve often eaten food that was past its use by date and am still (covertly checks pulse) alive.
      Countdown, New World etc aren’t so casual when it comes to – well perhaps they really do give a damn about customers, though they stock a lot of products that aren’t conducive to good health even when freshly unpacked – when it comes to legal responsibility. The “chief executive of the Electricity Networks Association, Graeme Peters” might get some useful tips from chatting with the supermarkets’ management & legal teams.

      • Elizabeth

        Hoping ComCom’s reckoning of the Boards running the skanky lines companies (eg Aurora Energy) will mean some harsh measures for the future health of the regions and their networks… might be painful to start but long term not a rotten tooth.

  5. Simon

    Lawrence Yule needs to get his own house in order ie water supply integrity. Before he tells lines companies how they should operate.

  6. Elizabeth

    What if? Dunedin has previously raised the idea of a community owned lines company for Otago to replace the disastrous Aurora Energy. A working example we briefly cited and provided links to was Network Waitaki.

    How did Network Waitaki fare in ComCom’s report ?!!


    Tue, 13 Jun 2017
    ODT: Power network ‘good’
    By Hamish MacLean
    The Commerce Commission’s new report cards for New Zealand’s electricity lines companies show Network Waitaki as the only power company in the lower South Island to receive a grade of “good” in all eight of the “estimated state of the assets” categories. […] Network Waitaki chief executive Graham Clark  yesterday said asset replacement was an ongoing focus for the community-owned electricity lines company, and would remain a focus because the company was “not actually profit driven”. “We’re actually owned by the community, so if we have to charge a bit more, or do things a little bit different, it’s actually the consumers who are benefiting from it, because the money is being spent on their assets, for their benefit, and it’s not being siphoned off for the shareholders somewhere else,” Mr Clark said. […] The company spent about $8million on its assets last year, and had spent about the same for the last several years. Mr Clark said these days a challenge for the company was around safety “when working on our network”. Cont/


  7. Calvin Oaten

    Actually, Mr Thompson as chair of Aurora plus the DCC mayor and councillors ought, if they had the gumption, to take a step back, and before committing to spending $750million of debt ask themselves a question or two about the wisdom of continuing to own the distribution company. Why? Well, there’s for sure further costs over and above the $750million, probably kicking the job over a $billion and climbing. Who pays for this money? Why the consumer and ratepayer of course. That it would put serious constraints on any and all capital expenditure in the future is a given.

    But the elephant in the room is the future of Aurora as a valued trading company. Why? Well, if one is up with the play in the technical field (and they ought to be if they are to be good administrators) then they would be aware of developments in the Solar industry on the world scene. If you all were, you would realise that Aurora has a very limited future for itself, let alone servicing the debt created on resurrecting the run down system due in effect by lax management and councils who condoned the robbing of the company of its capital to hold down rates, whilst expending vast sums on ‘frivolous’ things like the Rugby Stadium, Dunedin Town Hall Redevelopment and the Otago Settlers Museum. Never mind such unnecessary items as the Cycleways and Aquatic Centres.

    What is the reason for concern? Well, if one looks at progress one can easily see that the cost per ‘watt’ installed in the 1970s was as high as US$76 per watt. Today it is, believe it or not, US 30cents/watt. Furthermore, there is still more to come. For instance the comparative costs today are as follows;
    Costs/Kw Hr in cents US
    Natural Gas 18c /Kw.
    Wind 15.8c /Kw.
    Advanced Nuclear 10.3c /Kw.
    Biomass 9.6c /Kw.
    PV Solar 8.4c /Kw.

    That of course will quite quickly register in the minds of the public and then there will be an increasing rate of installations happening. All this of course takes the established place off the ‘grid’, or in effect removes it from the income stream of the distribution company. Meanwhile the debt will still exist and the income will reduce to the point of bankruptcy. Not rocket science, but perhaps a bit much for the average councillor or accountant director to grasp.

    All this will be aggravated by the “Climate Changers” push for renewables and the reduction of carbon output. All in all it is a ‘no brainer’ of the first order. Bearing in mind that this is now, technically and more so in the future, the pressure will grow and the company known as Aurora will become a dinosaur dying slowly as it crassly attempts to strangle the ratepayers.

    Likely? I think it will take maybe ten or fifteen years, but hey, how can we repay $1billion in that time? Think about it councillors, instead of waffling over chocolate factories and other unlikely baubles. Then of course there is the South Dunedin drainage costs to be faced up to regardless of the quibble between the “Flat Earthers” and the “Others”.

    It is time for the Mayor and councillors to get serious and sell the companies for whatever we can get. The only one who has shown common sense on this point has been Cr Vandervis, but we all know what recognition he gets for that.

  8. A

    The nomenclatural curse of ‘Aurora’.

    Aurora. Errol Flynn’s ocean going yacht (“Let me off!’)

    Project Aurora. An efficiency model for SOEs, which asks employees to nominate where job cuts might be made.

  9. Elizabeth

    Fast-track pole programme on schedule.

    Wed, 21 Jun 2017
    Aurora Energy replaces Baldwin St power poles
    By Vaughan Elder
    Contractors had an uphill battle to replace power poles on the world’s steepest street yesterday. Three crews working on Aurora Energy’s fast-track pole replacement programme installed three poles on Baldwin St yesterday. Delta general manager operations and risk John Campbell said working on steep streets could be challenging and required careful execution. […] Three external crews from Downer and Infratec worked on the street. Cont/

  10. Elizabeth

    Received by email – Facebook video rather graphic !!
    Mon, 19 Jun 2017

    Tom Gordon

    Carlton hill power outage, caused by this…… Sounded gnarly when it went bang…. Thank you to the response teams for acting so rapidly to attend and repair the fault…
    18 June at 02:40am

    Richard Healey comments:

    Luke Millard Richard Healey is this a new pole..
    18 June at 10:18

    Richard Healey Looks like it could be, also looks like the cable has not been long enough to lay into the pole properly so its under a lot of strain at the base. A look in daylight would be good. Where is it?
    18 June at 10:50 · Edited

    Luke Millard Corstophine end of riselaw rd
    18 June at 10:58

    Richard Healey Looks 12 to 18 months old. 6.6kV cable had failed near the pole and arc has reached the surface. Probably looked quite spectacular. Potentially very dangerous for anyone within a few metres. Especially dangerous if they tried to power it back up after the protection turned it off – which with Delta is very likely.
    18 June at 20:56

    Tom Gordon Corsty end of Riselaw road bruv….
    18 June at 10:54

    Tom Gordon Its the first pole on street on mosgiel side at corsty rd end.

    Jayde Melville what time was this
    18 June at 12:16

    Tom Gordon About 2-2.30am
    18 June at 12:59

  11. Gurglars

    Minister of Energy Judith Collins said the findings that some company equipment was in serious need of replacement sent a clear message that boards of those companies needed to focus on their core responsibilities

  12. Gurglars

    Personally, I believe that Aurora should be renamed Hoping.com.

    Aurora is clearly a misnomer.

  13. Elizabeth

    Aurora Energy is replacing on average 70 poles per week across its network in Central Otago, Queenstown Lakes and Dunedin.

    Thu, 22 Jun 2017
    ODT: Timing of power shutdown irks businesses
    By Jono Edwards
    Clyde businesses are frustrated the town will be “shut down” on July 1, a week on Saturday, due to a scheduled power outage. Aurora plans to replace seven power poles in Clyde as part of its programme to upgrade its network. It is planned for 9am-4pm and is expected to affect 630 customers. […] Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan represented the businesses and tried to get Aurora to change the date, but failed […] At a Vincent Community Board meeting this week, member Russell Garbutt wanted the board to pass a resolution noting its concern with the scheduled power cut due to its potential loss of income to businesses. The board was supportive. However, the rules of community boards meant a resolution could not be made without first going through Central Otago District Council staff, he said.
    Aurora Energy chief executive Grady Cameron said […] “We regret that in this instance consensus could not be reached about when would cause least disruption.” Cont/

  14. Elizabeth

    Last night news that Delta’s head inspector handed in his resignation [yesterday].

  15. Elizabeth

    At Facebook:

    The comments at this post are chiefly rubbish – Facebook is haunted by ‘no-brainers’ prepared to insult anyone.

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