According to the provincial auditor’s latest report, SaskPower is taking care of its most significant above-ground distribution infrastructure but needs to improve the way it maintains the rest of it.
Judy Ferguson’s report states that inspections and maintenance are completed as expected on more than one million wood poles in SaskPower’s grid. Further, that the work is monitored and maintenance is linked to replacement.
However, the report noted SaskPower did not maintain other above-ground assets as often as planned and did not have up-to-date information on the condition for all of them.
Ferguson listed overhead switches and voltage regulators as some of the assets, which are key to providing reliable power to more than 500,000 customers.
“For example, it had never inspected 71 per cent of its switches, even though it had planned to inspect them every five years,” Ferguson told reporters on Tuesday.
“SaskPower uses those inspections to determine the condition of the assets but also to carry out some preventative maintenance.”
Her report also said that SaskPower tracked data on its assets using multiple IT systems, for asset information, work orders and inspections. However, Ferguson said the data was not always accurate.
In one case, the number of voltage regulators was listed at 1,217 in the asset system but at 1,580 in the work order system, a 30 per cent variance.
This data would be used to determine which assets to inspect and when, Ferguson said.
Ferguson also found that SaskPower used an informal process to prioritize specific maintenance activities, ranking them from “low” to “very high priority.” However, the basis for these decisions was not documented and the implications of them were not formally assessed.
“For example, it didn’t determine whether or not its decisions contributed to more or less unplanned outages or whether they increased future maintenance costs,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said a corporate-wide asset management strategy will address most of the concerns flagged.
A statement from SaskPower said the Crown corporation was aware of the concerns raised in the report and is addressing them.
“We will continue our work to improve data management and analysis relating to the maintenance of our other above-ground distribution equipment. We are also very open about the challenge we face with aging infrastructure in the province. Much of our above-ground distribution infrastructure was built in the 1950s and 60s and is nearing the end of its useful life. This is one of the reasons we invest approximately $1 billion every year to upgrade and grow the province’s electrical grid,” the statement reads.
“The Provincial Auditor has also confirmed that SaskPower’s maintenance strategies are consistent with industry practices and qualified staff are used to maintain our assets.”
With files from Andrew Shepherd and Joseph Ho