New Zealand Law Society - Commerce Commission targets Vector power outage level

Commerce Commission targets Vector power outage level

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The Commerce Commission says it has filed civil proceedings in the Auckland High Court to seek financial penalties against electricity lines company Vector for breaching its network quality standards.

"Vector serves more than half a million homes and businesses in the greater Auckland region and as a regulated business must comply with Commission regulations regarding the maximum revenue it can collect and the minimum standards of quality it must deliver. Quality is measured in the duration and frequency of power outages," the Commission says.

"As part of its compliance with the regulations, Vector reported that it had breached its quality standards in both the 2015 and 2016 financial years. The Commission will file proceedings under the Commerce Act alleging Vector failed to adhere to good industry practice in some aspects of its network management, which resulted in increased outages over that period."

The Commission says that in particular it considers Vector did not meet good industry practice with regard to aspects of its:

  • overall governance of compliance with the quality standards – for example, underestimating the growing risk of non-compliance, and failing to have methods to predict and plan for the effects of increased traffic congestion
  • asset life-cycle management practices
  • approach to managing reliability, such as a consolidated and documented strategic reliability management plan, which would have helped to identify key issues and solution options
  • vegetation management (ie, cutting trees to avoid collisions with power lines)
  • management and supervision of arrangements with the field service providers whose crews undertake maintenance and fix faults on Vector’s network.

It says Vector has co-operated with the investigation and has confirmed it will not contest the proceedings. It has also reported further breaches of its quality standards for 2017 and 2018 that are subject to a separate investigation.

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