Aurora issues not authority matter

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Less than meets the eye . . . The single remaining transformer at the Clyde-Earnsleugh substation failed on June 14, sparking ongoing outrage towards Aurora Energy. PHOTO: JARED MORGAN

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods says the state of Aurora Energy’s network has resulted in safety and reliability issues but is not a matter for the Electricity Authority.

She stated this in a letter to Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan last Monday.

The reply is in response to a letter Mr Cadogan sent her on June 29.

In his letter, Mr Cadogan requested the Electricity Authority review Aurora’s ability to provide a level of service to Clyde and its surrounds that met legal requirements and a reasonable standard of supply, following a power cut in the town on June 14.

Dr Woods made no such undertaking in her reply.

Instead, she referred to the Commerce Commission considering Aurora’s application to fund planned work to improve the network’s safety and reliability and said she believed the commission was the most appropriate avenue to review the level of service to Central Otago, rather than the Electricity Authority.

“I have empathy for the difficulties your community has faced without power.

“Nobody wants to be without power, especially for an extended period during cold weather, as was the case in Clyde recently.”

However, she said “no power supply is 100% reliable”.

“Every power supply is susceptible to extreme weather and equipment failure.

“At the same time, we all expect reasonable power reliability.”

Dr Woods said Aurora had assured her it had made progress to remedy the underinvestment and was looking to do more in the next three to five years.

“It is working through a backlog of investment to improve safety and reliability, with the highest priorities first.”

Mr Cadogan said the minister’s response highlighted even more the importance of the Central Otago community engaging with the Commerce Commission process, either through its website or via the public drop-in sessions.

Public drop-in sessions begin in Dunedin on August 6.

In Alexandra, the meeting will be held on August 10.

Cromwell follows on August 11, Wanaka on August 12 and Queenstown on August 13.