Is Lismore headed for a power meltdown
By WILL JACKSON firstname.lastname@example.org
STANDING beneath a high current power pole that looks long past its use-by date, Marlon Crowther has grave concerns for the safety of his family, his stock and for the people of Lismore. Five years ago NorthPower, which was then responsible for electricity infrastructure on the North Coast, sought access to the Crowther family's Parrots Nest property for urgent maintenance work, including replacement of the pole which supports one of the three lines that deliver Lismore's electricity. The energy supplier had legal easements for access to its network but the company said they were inadequate for the plant and equipment needed to complete the work. Instead, it demanded access via the Crowther's land. The family declined access until a proper agreement on conditions was in place. They're currently asking for access to be conditional and $5500 per year compensation for the estimated loss of 20 acres to roads. "We're both commercial enterprises so we want them to pay the market value," Mr Crowther said. With negotiations with the corporation which now controls the infrastructure, Country Energy, still stalled, Mr Crowther reckons the pole could go at any time. "Let's just say this... if they regarded it as urgent five years ago it certainly hasn't gotten any better," he said. He said he was concerned he or one of his family members could be killed if the pole fell on them and that his stock could wander into fallen lines and be electrocut- ed. However, Country Energy re- gional general manager Brian Glawson said the pole was unlike- ly to come down. He refused to comment on NorthPower's original assessment of the infrastructure, which the Crowther's have documentation of. Mr Glawson said after a Coun- try Energy aerial patrol examined lines in the area in August, he didn't consider replacement of the pole to be urgent. "There is a pole that will ulti-
mately need to be replaced but there is no immediate danger," he said. "Quite often the footing will move and a pole will lean but that doesn't mean it will fall over. It's just a normal consequence of the construction." He said that the three lines that supplied the Three Chain Road substation in South Lismore had enough redundancy that if one was brought down, supply would not be interrupted. He added that the State Govern- ment's Electricity Act gave Coun- try Energy the power to access any private land for maintenance and repairs. However, the company preferred to work with land owners and gain permission beforehand. He refused to talk about any commer- cial arrangements between Coun- try Energy and the Crowthers.