A customer was unhappy with vegetation management by an electricity distribution network on and around his property

Meters, poles, wires and pipes
Case Number 2018/866
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Mr W was dissatisfied with his distribution network following the placement of a power pole that resulted in powerlines running directly over his property. Since the installation, a gum tree on his property had frequently led to supply interruptions due to contact with the lines. The distribution network had attended the site regularly to undertake vegetation management of the surrounds and to maintain appropriate line clearance. However, he was unsure this was being done appropriately with the gum tree on his property because an arborist had been unwilling to trim the branches of the gum tree due to the proximity of the powerlines.

Unable to resolve his complaint directly with the distributor, Mr W contacted EWOV for assistance. EWOV raised an Assisted Referral, which required a senior level staff member from the distributor to contact him to resolve the complaint. The distributor did this and acknowledged his concerns, it advised him that representative would get back to him after the matter was reviewed. After receiving no further response, Mr W returned to EWOV and an Investigation was opened.

The Investigation

EWOV’s investigation determined that the distributor had been completing vegetation management in line with the Electricity Safety (Line Clearance) Regulations. Because Mr W’s gum tree is located in a low risk bushfire area, the upper branches of the canopy are able to remain, and do not need to be cut outside the required clearance zone (300mm).

The Investigation also found that the power pole had been placed correctly, and its height and lines were within current guidelines and regulations.

Two potential solutions were however identified by EWOV to resolve the issue. Mr W could have an arborist remove the tree with the distributor isolating the supply while this was done. Alternatively, the line height of the related power pole could be adjusted.

The Outcome

Mr W accepted that the vegetation management completed by the distribution network had been completed in line within current guidelines and regulations. The distributor however offered to adjust the line height to minimise supply interruptions because of the customer’s tree. Mr W was also provided with details of the related costs should he wish to consider having the gum tree removed. The distributor provided him with a direct contact should he wish to undertake this following adjustment on the existing powerlines. Mr W was satisfied with the resolution offered, and the case was closed.

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