Frequently Asked Questions
Below we have listed answers to commonly asked questions that relate to new electricity connections. The electricity industry also has some special terms that you may not be familiar with. Many of these are mentioned in legislation or regulations that provide the ultimate definitions, but here we have given some simple explanations for common terms you will hear in relation to new connections.
How do I report a power fault?
Contact your electricity retailer to report faults. This is the company you pay your electricity bill to. A list of retailers and their contact details can be found here.
What is the difference between a lines company and a retailer?
There are four different types of organisations that work together to provide you with electricity:
Electricity Generators: generate the power at power stations.
Transpower: operates the national grid which transmits electricity from power stations to zone substations.
Lines Companies: distribute electricity from zone substations to homes and business. There are many lines companies throughout New Zealand. Each has their own area in which they build and maintain their network. Powerco is a lines company.
The Retailers: Sell you the electricity and conduct meter reading.
I need power for my new development / sub-divisions - who do I contact?
In the first instance you will need to use a Powerco approved a contractor who will be able to make all the arrangements for you. A list of approved contractors for your area can be found here.
How do I know if my street/area is due for a planned outage?
You will either be contacted by your electricity retailer or have a hand delivered notice to inform you when the power is going off and for how long.
How do I organise a permanent disconnection?
If your property is to be moved or demolished and will be permanently disconnected you will need to contact your electricity retailer. There may also be some costs involved with the disconnection.
Who do I contact if streetlights are faulty or not coming on?
If streetlights are faulty or not coming on in your street, it’s important that you first contact your local council. Each council will have their own contractors who will deal with any luminaire faults in the first instance.
I have a problem with my electricity meter, do you deal with these?
No, Powerco does not own any electricity meters. If you have a problem with your electricity meter please contact your electricity retailer (the company you pay your power account to).
What is an ICP Number?
ICP stands for Installation Control Point. An ICP number is a unique number that is assigned to identify an individual consumer connection point. You may need to quote the ICP Number(s) of your meter(s) to an electricity retailer if you change retailers.
Who do I contact with a query on my power bill?
Your electricity retailer handles your billing. You will find their contact details on the power bill itself.
I am moving house, what do I do?
If you need your power disconnected or reconnected when moving out of or into a property please contact your electricity retailer.
Can I change Retailer/Billing Company after I have been connected?
Yes, your new chosen retailer will apply to your existing retailer for a switch.
Who owns which lines?
Powerco owns the 'network lines' that usually run down the side of the road, and our poles usually carry several lines. Powerco is responsible for the repair of any faults on our electricity network or equipment.
In general, the property owner becomes responsible for the 'service line' at the point it crosses their boundary, and the property owner is responsible for any costs involved with this part of the line. If a fault occurs and is found to be on your side of the boundary, the cost of repair and possibly the call out charge will be your responsibility.
Many owners/consumers do not realise they are responsible for power lines and poles which supply electricity to their property. Inside private property boundaries, owners/consumers are legally responsible for the safety and maintenance of their electrical installation. This includes any overhead or underground service lines, not just the wiring inside a building.
I need to repair my service line or require a 'line drop'.
As stated above service lines are the customer's responsibility. Therefore, if you need to work on these lines, it will be at your cost.
If you are having work done on a service line then you will require a Powerco Approved Contractor, as that contractor will need access to our network to isolate your line.
A list of Powerco approved contractors can be found here.
I need a temporary disconnection so I can safely do some roofing, painting, water blasting or tree trimming near my service line - how do I arrange this?
Repairs to roofing, spouting, painting, water-blasting, tree trimming and scaffolding can be dangerous if carried out close to overhead service lines.
If you require a 'Temporary Safety Disconnection' for these types of works, please contact your retailer, who will be able to organise this for you. You need to give at least 24 hours notice, and the disconnection must take place in normal working hours (8:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday to Friday) or you will be liable for charges. If you require a temporary disconnection for electrical work to take place, then please see the next question below.
Please be aware that if your property is outside of town boundaries, the contractor may charge mileage on top of their fees.
I need a temporary disconnection so electrical work can take place at my property.
If you are carrying out electrical work you will need to employ the services of a Powerco approved contractor to temporarily disconnect your power from our network. A list of these contractors can be found here.
Who owns power poles?
Powerco owns the power poles that carry the network lines. If the pole is on your property and does not have a Powerco identification number on it then it is probably your pole and hence your responsibility.
I have network poles and lines running across my property, are they allowed to be there?
Yes, there will either be an easement stated in the deeds of your property or there will be an automatic easement under the Electricity Act 1992.
Who pays for third party damage?
Faults on our network caused by a third party are charged to those responsible for the damage. If a tree drops onto our power lines or equipment, the tree owner is responsible. If a vehicle like a tractor or farm machinery hits our power lines or equipment, or if a high load on a truck takes down our lines across a road, the driver will be held responsible.
My trees are growing through my service line - can you cut these back?
No. You will have to organise a tree trimming company to cut these back or you can organise a temporary safety disconnection and cut the branches back yourself if you feel you are capable of doing so.
My neighbours trees are growing through my service line - who is responsible?
This will be a civil matter between you and you neighbour as the trees are only affecting your service line. We recommend you speak to your neighbour and make them aware of the problem and arrange between you both to have the trees cut back and if necessary apply for a temporary safety disconnection.
My trees / my neighbours trees are growing into the network lines - can you cut them back?
You will need to contact one of Powerco’s approved tree contractors who will be able to advise you further, your local tree contractors details can be found here.
NOTE: do not cut these trees yourself as they are very close to high voltage lines and can only be cut back by professionals. There may be a charge for cutting your trees away from the network lines.
How do I find out where electricity cables are located?
Contact the beforeUdig service who will be able to assist you.
Do you need to know I will be working near electrical lines and or underground cables?
If you know you will be working close to live lines then you may require a Close Proximity Permit.
Please call us on 0800 769 372 to arrange a permit.
Follow the 4 metre rule: All work activity must be kept AT LEAST 4 METRES from overhead power lines. If you need to work closer you need a Close Proximity Permit.
For further information on close working distances, please call us on 0800 769 372.
Can I have the electricity lines outside my property put underground?
Yes, but this will be at your cost and there are minimum lengths for the underground conversion. You will require a Powerco approved contractor to carry out this work. Please contact us for a list of approved contractors in your area or see the list here.
Why aren't all power lines put underground?
To keep the cost of electricity down. Underground cables are much more expensive to install than overhead lines. It is true that they generally require less maintenance and usually suffer fewer faults, but cable faults are much harder (and thus more expensive) to locate and much more expensive to repair.