Cable Location Frequently Asked Questions

Who owns underground electrical cables?
Electrical cables running underground in the service corridor beside residential roads are owned by Unison. They are likely to be below the grass verge between your property boundary and the road but can also run inside private property.  
 
Unison does not own or have records of private service main electrical cables. These are the cables inside your boundary and carrying electricity supply to your home. 
 
Unison does not own or have records of other private electricity service cables which may be inside your property, such as cables which could run from a house to a garage, or from a garage to a pool. 

What does a Cable Location and Mark-out show? 

For the Mark-out of either Unison or privately-owned service main cables, we will normally spray paint on the ground to indicate the approximate location (not the depth) of the cables under the ground surface, as identified using the electronic cable locator. Please note that the actual location of cables may vary from that identified using the electronic cable locator.  
 
Unison’s Cable Location and Mark-out service will not indicate the location of any other services such as gas, water or sewer pipes, or telecommunication cables. 

What is the difference between a Location Plan (Plan Service), Cable Location and Mark-out for privately owned cables and Cable  Location and Mark-out for Unison owned cables?
If you ask for a Location Plan (free Plan Service), we will search our records and, based on those records, provide you a plan showing an indication only of the approximate location of electrical cables laid by or on behalf of Unison.  Be aware that any Location Plan will not show the location of any private electricity service cables, other services that were not laid by Unison or on behalf of Unison, or any services which Unison does not have a record of.

If you ask for the Cable Location and Mark-out service for privately owned cables at a particular property, we will provide an indication only of the approximate location (not the depth) of privately owned service-main electrical cables at the property, using an electronic cable locator. 

If you ask for the Cable Location and Mark-out service for Unison owned cables at a particular property we will provide an indication only of the approximate location (not the depth) of Unison owned electrical cables at the property, using an electronic cable locator. 

Are there difficulties in identifying the location of underground cables?
You need to be aware that changes can occur to the location of underground cables (including the depth) or the position of reference points used to indicate the location of underground cables. Cables are not necessarily laid in a straight line and depths can vary in different situations.  Any Location Plan or Cable Location and Mark-out Service is intended to provide an indication only of the potential location (but not the depth) of electrical or fibre-optic cables. 

Does a Cable Location give me permission to dig and excavate?
The provision of the Location Plan, or Cable Location and Mark-out Service by Unison to the Customer does not constitute Unison’s consent for any excavation or other work to be undertaken at the property or for any electrical works or installations to be moved, displaced, disconnected or otherwise interfered with.    

Access to the Property
If you ask Unison to perform a Cable Location Service in relation to a privately-owned property or publicly owned property with access restrictions, you will need to ensure that you arrange for Unison to have access to the Property to perform the service. You will also need to ensure that there are no hazards on the Property.

Safety with underground cables
Damaging underground electrical cables can result in serious injury or even death.  
Always locate underground cables and services before digging, planting trees or garden or driving stakes or standards into the ground.  Do not plant trees or garden or place signs or stakes in the verge outside your property if electricity cables are buried underground in the vicinity.  Cables are not designed to withstand a blow from a tool, or any other object.  

Electricity may be underground, but don’t forget gas, water, sewer and telecommunication lines. If you are not sure exactly where your other services are located, check with your local council or other service provider before you start any excavation work, particularly in the berm outside your property. 

Given the safety issues, personnel engaged in excavation, construction or other work have a responsibility under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 to identify and manage such hazards and persons planning to undertake excavation, construction or other work near underground network or service-mains and underground services must follow all relevant guidelines and obtain all relevant consents.  

Do I need a consent before digging or excavating?
Before undertaking any excavation, construction or other work, you should make your own enquiries as to any consents that must be obtained before such work may commence and independent advice about how such work may be safely carried out in a manner that will ensure no risk of damage to persons or the cables and compliance with all relevant laws. Be aware that in some cases you may need to obtain a Close Approach Permit from Unison before undertaking any excavation, construction or other work where that work is to be carried out in the vicinity of Unison owned Works.  

For more information on safety with underground cables read the Worksafe New Zealand “Guide for Safety with Underground Services” (ISBN 0-477-03665-1). This guide is available for free at www.business.govt.nz/worksafe


What should I do if an electrical cable is damaged?
If an electrical cable becomes damaged or you suspect damage, even if such damage appears to be minor, contact Unison immediately on 0800 2 UNISON (0800 2 86 476)! 

Contact Unison before you dig. 
0800 2 UNISON (0800 2 86 476)