Maintenance of wooden and concrete poles

20 October 2016

Orion has a robust and comprehensive strategy in place to restore the resilience and reliability of its network by 2019 and is on track to meet this goal. We strive to provide a safe, reliable and cost-effective electricity network providing customers with the capacity they need when they need it. However, much of what goes on within our business does not directly relate to earthquake repairs and rebuilds. 

As part of ‘business as usual,’ and Orion’s total commitment to keeping people and communities safe, we take a proactive approach to our maintenance programme, including for our wooden and concrete poles.  

As part of this strategy, we maintain poles right up to the entry to a building, so some of these might be on customer premises or property. 

Orion has around 100,000 poles on its network. There are also other poles around the region (such as telephone and street lights) that are not part of our network. The average age of our poles is 29 years and that’s approximately what we would call ‘half-life’ as they are expected to last between 50 and 60 years. Orion uses independent inspectors to physically inspect around 20,000 poles a year.

We have a database of every pole within our network, its condition and an overall maintenance and replacement plan based on their age, findings from regular inspections and environmental conditions poles are exposed to.

Orion will also immediately action an inspection of any pole that is highlighted as potentially being of concern and there are strict regulations and guidelines around this. 

At this time, importantly, there are no poles that are ‘red-tagged’. A red-tag would indicate a safety issue and that a pole should not be climbed.

Any pole that is flagged as a potential issue is inspected further and immediate action taken. If any pole is at risk of failure, then it is replaced immediately. Given the earthquakes, and the impact on poles, Orion identified the red zone as a potential risk area and all poles in that area are inspected monthly.

In summary, Orion has a robust programme in place that goes beyond what the regulations require. There are currently no red-flagged poles within our network and poles within the red zone are inspected monthly. Anyone can call us at any time if they have any concern at all about any particular pole.