Down with power poles! How Entrust is helping bury them forever.

Thanks to Entrust’s majority ownership of Vector Ltd, we have an agreement with Vector that commits $10.5 million dollars to projects in the Entrust district every year. This fund has historically been used for underground projects in the Entrust district and has recently been extended to include new technology such as solar and battery.

This fund has seen the look of streets all over Auckland change with 71.1% of the Auckland network underground as at April 2022.

To see the current undergrounding projects click here.

For a full list of completed projects, plus details of what the projects cover, when they were finished and how many people they benefit, click here to go to the projects page on the Vector Electricity website.

How does Vector choose which streets to underground?

The process for choosing where to underground is run by Vector and is independent of Entrust.

The main thing Vector takes into consideration is the condition of the overhead power lines and poles. If they’re in bad shape, they’re probably a good candidate for undergrounding. Other things Vector considers are: history of faults in the area, the number of customers who will benefit and whether other utility works are planned for the area (is other digging going to happen anyway, such as for water, gas or communication work?).

Where possible, Vector aims for a ‘dig-once’ approach, so residents benefit not only from underground power services, but also potentially from telecommunications, and street lighting, resulting in an all-round visually enhanced street appeal at the end of the project.

All new residential developments since the later 1960s were undergrounded at the time of construction. This means parts of Auckland, such as south and east Auckland, have a significant proportion of the network underground already.  

As Entrust represents electricity consumers that were served by the Auckland Electric Power Board (AEPB ) the undergrounding project does not extend to the northern part of the Vector network in the North Shore, Waitakere and Rodney areas.

The undergrounding process

The first part of the process is to build a new underground electricity reticulation network through trenching and drilling to install the cables. New ground mounted cabinets are also installed to displace the equipment previously installed on the poles, such as switchgear and transformers.

Once complete and tested, the network is made live and technicians begin to connect houses one by one to the new underground network. 

Once all houses are connected, Vector can start de-energising and removing the overhead network, by installing new streetlight stands and removing the old overhead lines and poles. The final touches are to reinstate footpaths and grass areas on affected berms and properties.

The team

Vector provides project ambassadors, who frequently communicate with residents and property owners about the project, how they will be impacted, and timeframes. Working closely with the community is very important to Entrust and to Vector.

Other people involved include civil workers, who undertake the trenching and drilling work, and electricity and fibre technicians, who install, connect and then liven the new underground electricity and fibre networks and house connections. Vector also has contractors to repair pavements and place topsoil and grass seed on berms and properties where required.