Wānaka’s household power bills are set to rise by $9.19 on April 1, up by 8.5 per cent in 2020.
Higher prices in Central Otago and Wānaka, compared with Dunedin, reflect the higher cost per customer of supplying power to parts of the network with fewer people, but many infrastructure assets. There are 56,000 customers connected in Dunedin on a network of 2,375 kilometres, whereas there are 22,000 customers on the 2,600 kilometres-long Central Otago network.
“The average monthly price changes (shown in the graph) are based on the average customer using 9000 units kw/h a year. During the summer months when usage is lower the actual monthly bill increase might be slightly less than the amount predicted, and it could be slightly higher in winter,” a spokesperson for Aurora said.
Aurora Energy is raising lines charges in line with the Commerce Commission’s draft decision on Aurora’s plans to invest heavily in safety and reliability upgrades across its ageing network.
The 2021 prices are based on a draft decision from the Commerce Commission, Aurora’s regulatory body.
Of the $523 million over five years that the Commerce Commission would allow Aurora to spend, an investment programme worth $315.5 million will go towards stepping up a programme of power infrastructure upgrades, begun in 2017 with the replacement of poles, lines and building new substations.
Around a quarter of all poles have been reinforced or replaced, and the majority inspected. The work on poles, after years of underinvestment in the network, will steadily continue, Aurora said.
In 2020 Aurora spent $73.8 million on maintenance and improvements, and this year plans to spend a similar amount. New electricity infrastructure on the way includes pole and substation upgrades in Central Otago and Wānaka.
“Upgrading our power infrastructure is a ‘must do’ situation for a local lines company, and we thank customers for their patience as we go through this major programme of investment and renewal. Power must be safely and efficiently delivered - that’s a bottom line. And our plan will deliver this,” Aurora Energy Chief Executive Richard Fletcher said.
“We also understand affordability is a real issue and value for money is expected. This is an essential investment to ensure safe and reliable electricity supply throughout our network, including the growing regions of Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes.”
Final Commerce Commission approval on Aurora’s investment plans is not expected until March 31, and this could alter Monday’s announced prices for 2021. Once the final decision is known, Aurora’s board and management will reassess 2021 pricing and communicate any further changes, if required, as quickly as possible.
Read edition 1016 of the WānakaSun here.