Gisborne third on power outage list

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THE Commerce Commission’s annual summary of New Zealand’s lines companies ranks Gisborne’s Eastland Network as having one of the nation’s highest frequency of power outages.

The Commission has published its latest one-page summaries of key performance measures for each of New Zealand’s 29 electricity lines companies, covering the year to March 31, 2017.

It shows that, on average, Eastland Network customers experienced between four and five outages over the year.
Only two other networks had a higher average outage rate.

However, Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd said that was down the region’s rural terrain.

“Eastland Network is predominantly a rural network with lots of customers supplied by a single line, where the cost of a secondary line would be too expensive to make sense,” he said.

“We operate and maintain almost 4000 kilometres of overhead lines and 397km of underground cables, with our network covering 11,952 square kilometres.

“Add to this the fact that we have a lot of forestry in the region and know that trees are causing the vast majority of our outages, then we have a network where customers do, unfortunately, experience above average periods without power.

“We make significant investments in repairs and maintenance to minimise outages as much as possible.

“In the financial year 2016, Eastland Network spent $190 per consumer on network operational expenditure, against an industry median of $143 per customer.”

Eastland Network held up well when comparing profitability. Its $12m yearly profit ranked 19 out of 29.

Although its lines revenue of $34.6m ranked only 20th nationally, its return on investment (8.94 percent) was the fifth best in New Zealand.

“When comparing profit figures, some adjustment needs to be made for the size of the network,” Mr Todd said.

“Of the 29 electricity distribution businesses in New Zealand, Eastland Network is the 16th largest by connection number, 15th largest by network length and 20th largest by asset base.

“Having a regulatory profit that falls within this range would be expected.”

As regulated utilities, lines companies are required to publicly disclose key performance information under Part 4 of the Commerce Act.

ComCom’s summaries cover a lines company’s performance in areas including profitability, capital and operating expenditure, revenue, network reliability and asset condition, including for lines, poles and substations.

Eastland Network had the longest period of outages — 1920 minutes in total. Mr Todd said that was mostly due to circumstances outside the company’s control.

“The year to March 2017, which the ComCom report covers, was one of the most challenging on record for Eastland Network.

“In December, the topdressing plane crash into the Gisborne-Tuai transmission line left more than 40,000 residents without electricity for 33 hours, as crews worked in dangerous conditions to restore power.

“There was a further, planned power outage to finish repairs a few days later. This tragic accident impacted the network in ways we could never have foreseen.

“If it hadn’t happened, Eastland Network would have been well within performance targets.

“In August 2016, snow settled on Transpower’s 220kV circuit at Wairakei to Whirinaki, cutting power for several hours to all of Gisborne, Wairoa, the East Coast and Hawke’s Bay.”

THE Commerce Commission’s annual summary of New Zealand’s lines companies ranks Gisborne’s Eastland Network as having one of the nation’s highest frequency of power outages.

The Commission has published its latest one-page summaries of key performance measures for each of New Zealand’s 29 electricity lines companies, covering the year to March 31, 2017.

It shows that, on average, Eastland Network customers experienced between four and five outages over the year.
Only two other networks had a higher average outage rate.

However, Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd said that was down the region’s rural terrain.

“Eastland Network is predominantly a rural network with lots of customers supplied by a single line, where the cost of a secondary line would be too expensive to make sense,” he said.

“We operate and maintain almost 4000 kilometres of overhead lines and 397km of underground cables, with our network covering 11,952 square kilometres.

“Add to this the fact that we have a lot of forestry in the region and know that trees are causing the vast majority of our outages, then we have a network where customers do, unfortunately, experience above average periods without power.

“We make significant investments in repairs and maintenance to minimise outages as much as possible.

“In the financial year 2016, Eastland Network spent $190 per consumer on network operational expenditure, against an industry median of $143 per customer.”

Eastland Network held up well when comparing profitability. Its $12m yearly profit ranked 19 out of 29.

Although its lines revenue of $34.6m ranked only 20th nationally, its return on investment (8.94 percent) was the fifth best in New Zealand.

“When comparing profit figures, some adjustment needs to be made for the size of the network,” Mr Todd said.

“Of the 29 electricity distribution businesses in New Zealand, Eastland Network is the 16th largest by connection number, 15th largest by network length and 20th largest by asset base.

“Having a regulatory profit that falls within this range would be expected.”

As regulated utilities, lines companies are required to publicly disclose key performance information under Part 4 of the Commerce Act.

ComCom’s summaries cover a lines company’s performance in areas including profitability, capital and operating expenditure, revenue, network reliability and asset condition, including for lines, poles and substations.

Eastland Network had the longest period of outages — 1920 minutes in total. Mr Todd said that was mostly due to circumstances outside the company’s control.

“The year to March 2017, which the ComCom report covers, was one of the most challenging on record for Eastland Network.

“In December, the topdressing plane crash into the Gisborne-Tuai transmission line left more than 40,000 residents without electricity for 33 hours, as crews worked in dangerous conditions to restore power.

“There was a further, planned power outage to finish repairs a few days later. This tragic accident impacted the network in ways we could never have foreseen.

“If it hadn’t happened, Eastland Network would have been well within performance targets.

“In August 2016, snow settled on Transpower’s 220kV circuit at Wairakei to Whirinaki, cutting power for several hours to all of Gisborne, Wairoa, the East Coast and Hawke’s Bay.”

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