Power line company shirking its responsibilities

31 Aug 2003

Power line companies, not land owners, are legally responsible for maintaining electricity routes, according to Federated Farmers and the NZ Forest Owners Association.

"Recent amendments to the Electricity Act clearly state that maintenance of electricity routes is not the responsibility of land owners," NZFOA chief executive Rob McLagan said in a statement made on behalf of the two organisations.

He was responding to comments last week by Vector Limited CEO Mark Franklin in which he said tree trimming was the responsibility of the property owner. Mr Franklin had been responding to public concerns about a young boy who had been severely injured when he grabbed a live transmission line while climbing a tree.

"Where a transmission line runs through private property, the responsibility lies with the power line company unless, there is a formal easement on the land title, which is unusual," Mr McLagan said.

"The responsibilities of land owners are restricted to their private supply lines.

"Land owners are opposed to any moves to make them responsible for maintaining the electricity routes used by power companies. Delivering power is the business of power line companies, not the business of land owners.

"Power line companies have the obligation and expertise to switch the power on and off. They are the only ones qualified to undertake maintenance work," he said.

"Vector and other power line companies are private profit-making enterprises, they are not public-good organisations. As such, they need to meet all the costs of operating their businesses including those associated with maintaining their transmission routes.

"It is unacceptable to have power companies attempting to shirk their responsibilities, especially when public safety is involved," Mr McLagan concluded.