Putting power and communication services underground

Over the next few years, Piritahi will be undergrounding power lines and communications services in neighbourhoods.
Digital render of the Northcote Development. Streets are free of overhead power and communication lines.

There are many benefits to converting these overhead services to underground:

  • Power and communications services are protected from the elements, making them less susceptible to damage or interruption caused by extreme weather
  • People and wildlife are less likely to accidentally come into contact with them, making them less hazardous and less susceptible to interference
  • It allows for wider berms and footpaths, providing more space for pedestrians and areas for planting
  • It makes our overall streetscapes and neighbourhoods look tidier
  • It enables us to modernise existing infrastructure before preparing the land for more, quality homes

Undergrounding power lines and communications services are commonly referred to as ‘conversion works’. Conversion works involve removing the existing overhead power and telecom lines and poles, reinstalling them safely underground, and then connecting them to individual properties.

This means that to complete conversion works within a neighbourhood, Piritahi needs to access some of the homes within a development area. Residents who live in existing homes which connect to visible overhead power lines will be contacted by Piritahi ahead of time to discuss the process and what it means for them. Piritahi works closely with residents throughout the process, keeping them informed and ensuring as little disruption as possible.

How does it work?

Conversion works are a significant undertaking and can take several months from start to finish. Piritahi works closely and collaboratively with Vector and specialist subcontractors to facilitate the end-to-end process. Here’s how it works:

  • Step one: our team assesses each property before advising and agreeing on the extent of the works with residents.
  • Step two: we prepare the berm and each property for the new connections to run through to the facade of a house. This usually involves either digging a small trench, or using a directional drilling method.
  • Step three: ducts and services are installed in the trenches. Ducts are then attached to each home and generally run along the side of a house or downpipe.
  • Step four: an electrician carries out any work required within the home to connect the new underground network to the switchboard.
  • Step five: the old overhead network is disconnected, the new underground network is switched on, and property connections are tested to ensure they’re working as they should.
  • Step six: old overhead lines and power poles are removed, making way for future streetscaping activities.
Power and communication lines are safely housed underground in our upgraded neighbourhoods.

Sometimes conversion works present an opportunity to upgrade residents’ fibre optic broadband connections. This will be discussed with residents during the conversion works process.

Berms and private properties are always reinstated to their previous condition. Power cuts are generally able to be kept to a minimum - between approximately 2 - 6 hours - and may only occur between the time the old overhead lines are switched off, and the new underground network is made live. Residents would be informed by their service provider ahead of time as to when this may occur for them.

For more information about conversion works taking place in your neighbourhood, please contact your local community liaison advisor, call 0508 PIRITAHI, or email info@piritahi.nz.