Power op­er­a­tor stay­ing put

Clutha Leader - - MONEY MATTERS - RICHARD DAVISON

Af­ter con­sid­er­ing op­tions for site up­grades, south­ern elec­tric­ity net­work op­er­a­tor Pow­erNet now ex­pects to re­tain its South Otago de­pot at its cur­rent lo­ca­tion in Bal­clutha.

In March, Pow­erNet chief ex­ec­u­tive Jason Franklin an­nounced $4 mil­lion had been ear­marked to up­grade the com­pany’s Char­lotte St premises, which were no longer fit for pur­pose.

Op­tions in­cluded a move else­where in Bal­clutha, a move to nearby Mil­ton, and a straight­for­ward re­de­vel­op­ment of the ex­ist­ing site.

A de­tailed de­sign and quan­tity sur­vey as­sess­ment of that site is now un­der­way, with a view to work start­ing in 2018.

The re­de­vel­op­ment by Pow­erNet rep­re­sented an in­vest­ment in South Otago ‘‘in a fa­cil­ity that will be there for an­other 40-50 years,’’ Franklin said.

‘‘Af­ter con­sult­ing ex­ten­sively with our South Otago staff, we ruled out a change in lo­ca­tion. About 65 per cent of Pow­erNet staff re­side in Bal­clutha, and that along­side the abil­ity to re­spond ef­fec­tively to faults re­gion-wide were among key cri­te­ria in our de­ci­sion.’’

Plan­ning for the new de­pot would take sev­eral fac­tors into ac­count, he said.

‘‘We want to op­ti­mise the work en­vi­ron­ment for those us­ing it, with im­proved ve­hi­cle and work­site safety and flow, and in­fra­struc­ture that can de­liver for Pow­erNet, its peo­ple and clients for at least the next 50 years.’’

Although work was al­most cer­tain to go ahead at the Char­lotte St site, un­ex­pected ob­sta­cles emerg­ing dur­ing the plan­ning stage could still halt the project, Franklin said.

‘‘There is a risk that we... en­counter is­sues that may re­sult in an­other site hav­ing to be con­sid­ered if those is­sues can­not be over­come. We’re not aware of any show stop­pers at this point, how­ever it’s only fair that we flag that, un­til the de­tailed de­sign and busi­ness case is fi­nalised, there is a risk we may en­counter prob­lems with the pre­ferred site.’’

The Char­lotte St site was zoned mixed-ur­ban, with any changes po­ten­tially sub­ject to a Clutha Dis­trict Coun­cil zone change, new noise re­stric­tions, build­ing heights and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sid­er­a­tions.

Franklin paid credit to the Bal­clutha staff for their pa­tience. ‘‘The way staff en­gaged, and the qual­ity of the feed­back which con­trib­uted to the even­tual de­ci­sion, was much ap­pre­ci­ated.’’

SUP­PLIED

Pow­erNet busi­ness im­prove­ment man­ager Rachael Watt is look­ing for­ward to the up­grade.

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