Power lines a danger, worried residents say

SHARE

PAM JONES

@alliedpress.co.nz

A group of Alexandra residents is taking Aurora Energy to task about the state of power infrastructure on Bridge Hill.

Bridge Hill residents Ken Churchill, Geoff McHardy, Glenda Thompson, Ingrid Mueller and Chris Aquilina-Roberts last week requested a meeting with Aurora chief executive Dr Richard Fletcher to discuss their concerns about the power lines going up Bridge Hill through Aronui Reserve and Jolendale Park towards State Highway 8.

Mr Churchill said an Aurora representative had since been in touch and two senior Aurora managers, although not Dr Fletcher, were meeting the group on site today.

The residents said they “utterly rejected” the recent explanation of an Aurora manager that a fire caused by a power line near Jolendale Park last month was caused by a tree falling on to the power line.

They say the tree they believe Aurora is referring to fell some time ago, away from the power lines, and the break in the power lines was, in fact, 30m away from the tree. They say the fire was caused by the power line “just falling” on to the ground because the lines in the area are in such poor condition.

Mr Churchill said he was angry Aurora was claiming the fire was caused by a fallen tree, but the fire was a symptom “of a bigger issue”.

He said the power infrastructure going through Alexandra’s Bridge Hill, including through the Aronui Reserve and Jolendale Park, was in such poor condition he was worried more power lines or poles would fall, possibly causing fires or electrocution.

“This area is full of people, including lots of children. We’re really worried about more power lines falling down, it’s a real danger.”

He said examples of the dangerous infrastructure included leaning power poles; multiple red, orange or blue tagged poles; a pole being supported by a “stay” cable only tied to a boulder; poles without possum guards; and sagging power lines. He said the middle of a group of power lines that ran near his house sagged about 1m lower than the power lines on either side of it. This was dangerous as the power lines could then touch during windy conditions, and could break or cause a fire, he said.

However, the residents’ greatest concern was that the power lines through Bridge Hill were “grossly overloaded”, said Mr Churchill, who believed the power infrastructure dated back to about 1950.

An Aurora statement said “we take any incident involving a line down or fire extremely seriously, which is why we are in the process of designing a new line through Jolendale Park to reduce the risk in future. The post-event investigation assessed the probable cause based on available information, including on-site inspection”.

The planning, design, construction and commissioning of the new line would take “a period of months”, the statement said.