Fuseworks Media

TLC signals huge network investment

The Lines Company (TLC) will pour $25 million into King Country’s electricity network over the next 12 months.

The investment is outlined in an updated asset management plan released today, and signals a further six per cent increase in network investment over a 10-year period from last year.

General manager – network Gerhard Buitendach said 2023 was challenging for TLC as the network recovered from massive damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle in February 2023. The cyclone took out power to 4,000 customers and forced a complete replacement of some key infrastructure, taking months to fix.

The coming year will see investment focussed on core areas, aimed at reducing the number and length of unplanned power cuts. Managing trees will be a huge focus, he said, with $1.6 budgeted to keep trees away from power lines.

“We’ve got 269km of power lines running through forestry blocks and a further 106km of line through DoC land. That makes our network very vulnerable to falling trees, especially during storms.”

“We’re already working closely with forestry companies, urging them to do their part to reduce the risk of trees falling on lines and causing outages. But in the coming year we have allocated budget specifically to re-route some lines away from trees completely.”

Making the network more resilient and secure were top priorities with TLC building on work over the past seven years. The asset plan identifies 12 initiatives costing $16.6 million to ensure a more secure power supply. A further maintenance investment of more than $10 million was budgeted just to reduce the likelihood of unplanned power outages.

TLC was also planning a major investment in data and would invest $6 million on a digitisation programme in 2024.

“We have a very strong focus on looking after our community long-term and we need excellent data to make the right investment decisions. We can improve our asset management and make our business much more seamless for customers if we utilise new technology.”

Buitendach said TLC was continuing to address long-standing legacy issues on a network recognised as one of the largest and most challenging in New Zealand, distributing energy to rural and sparsely populated areas.

“We invested $98 million into the network between 2017-2023 – nearly double what had been spent in the previous six year period. We’ll keep investing but in a very measured and carefully planned way because we are acutely aware we can only do that at a pace our community can afford.”

 

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