A customer had recently built an extension to his property. He was concerned that the electricity power line which services his neighbour was overhanging his property and was too close to the new extension. He contacted the electricity distributor and it advised that it would cost $3,300 to relocate the electricity line to an underground pit and that the customer would bear the cost of these works. The customer was unhappy with this advice and believed the power line should never have been placed in a position where it overhangs his driveway and property as it interferes with his enjoyment.
An Assisted Referral was raised, however the distributor did not contact the customer within the required timeframe. Due to the complex nature of the complaint, EWOV used its discretion to bypass its Real Time Resolution process and commenced an Investigation.
EWOV obtained a copy of the distributor’s notes about this case and requested photographs of the property and the power line from the customer. The distribution company advised that its records indicated this power line had been installed in the late 1970’s when the neighbouring property was first connected to electricity.
EWOV noted there were several different rules, laws and codes relating to power line clearance requirements that needed to be considered in this case, including The Electricity Industry Act (2000), The Electricity Safety Act (1998) and associated Regulations. Regarding the distributors advice that the customer would bear the cost of relocating the power line in this circumstance, EWOV obtained advice from other distributors as to how they would handle this complaint in order to ascertain whether the distributor’s decision was reasonable and consistent with industry practice.
EWOV also discussed the case in depth with its technical advisor and decided that a site visit was necessary. EWOV subsequently conducted a site visit with its technical advisor, the customer and a staff member from the distribution company to view the site, measure the clearance distance between the power line and various points of the new structure and driveway. With this information, EWOV would be able to consider whether the distributor had complied with all of the relevant laws and codes in this case.
During the site visit, the clearance between the power line and the driveway was measured as 3.70 meters at its lowest point, which is within the Technical Standard of 3.00 metres to 3.99 metres for existing connections. The clearance between the power line and the roofline of the new structure was measured as between 400 millimetres to 600 millimetres which is within the specifications of the Service and Installation Rules which require a minimum clearance of 100 millimetres. The distributor advised that it believed it had complied with its other obligation to consider whether the power line would sag below the 100 millimetre minimum standard in the worst possible weather conditions because, after being in place for such a long period of time, it would have already reached its ‘maximum sag’.
EWOV advised the customer that, although the power line placement was not aesthetically pleasing, the distribution company had complied with the various rules, laws and codes and the distance between the power line and the dwelling was acceptable and so it was not required to relocate the power line. It also confirmed that the distributor’s advice that the customer would bear the cost of relocating the power line in this situation was in line with good industry practice.
The customer accepted EWOV’s investigation and advice regarding the clearance requirements and that the distributor was not required to pay to relocate the power line.