Kordia uses law as pretext to refuse back-up power on sites

The SOE is classed as a lines company and is therefore unable to also act as a power generator says spokesperson, despite Kordia's exemption from the law

A row has erupted between state-owned enterprise Kordia, formerly known as BCL, and some of its customers over the supply of back-up power at the wireless-network company's sites.

Kordia wrote to Wellington radio communications company TeamTalk, stating that:

"BCL is deemed to be a Line Company under the Electricity Reforms Act and therefore is unable to also be classified as a Generator. On that basis, BCL is no longer able to provide TeamTalk with Standby Generator Power for upgrades to existing or new services."

On the New Zealand Network Operators' Group mailing list, Jonathan Brewer of Araneo, a wireless provider one-third owned by TeamTalk, wrote that the lack of back-up power prevents his company from providing carrier-grade telecommunications services from BCL/Kordia sites.

Emma Wilkinson, Kordia's communications and brand manager, confirms that the SOE is classed as a lines company under the Electricity Reform Act and therefore is unable to also act as a [power] generator. "We cannot recover the costs of standby power systems that are already in place, but we do make standby generator power available at our discretion," Wilkinson says.

Asked to cite the relevant part of the Electricity Reform Act that states Kordia cannot provide back-up power to customers, Wilkinson says it is in fact a Commerce Commission ruling that says so.

Computerworld contacted the Commerce Commission for clarification on the matter, but was told that BCL applied in 1999 for an exemption from the Electricity Industry Reform Act of 1989, section 17 — the part of the act that governs whether lines companies can in fact generate electricity.

The Commission considered that BCL fell within the definitions of both an electricity lines company and an electricity supply company — and BCL was granted an exemption subject to certain conditions.

Wilkinson confirms that BCL does in fact have an exemption from the act, and when pressed on why it really doesn't want to supply back-up power, says that the communication to its customers was "harshly worded". She reiterates that back-up power is available to customers at Kordia's discretion. Despite promises of further clarification on the issue from Kordia, Computerworldreceived no more information.

After his first message to the NZNOG list, Brewer wrote to say that his initial posting violated a confidentiality agreement with Kordia. Later on, a Kordia account manager wrote to TeamTalk, requesting that the latter contact the "webmaster" of the "blog" to remove the "email trail" that started with Brewer's message.

In a fourth message to NZNOG, Brewer says that the request for removal "supposedly" came from Kordia's legal department. He also states that he doesn't believe the particular bit of communication conveyed was of a private or sensitive nature, but would try to get the messages removed from the public eye according to Kordia's wishes.

However, NZNOG policy is not to act as a censor and remove messages, and they are still there, available to anyone with a web browser and internet connection.

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