Powerco unveils $1.4 billion regional investment plan for North Island electricity networks

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Powerco today released a proposal to invest up to $1.4 billion upgrading the electricity networks supplying Coromandel, Eastern and Southern Waikato, Western Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Whanganui, Manawatu, Tararua and Wairarapa.

The investment programme spans a five-year period from 1 April 2018.

Powerco Chief Executive Nigel Barbour said the proposal reflected Powerco’s commitment to regional New Zealand and would underpin future economic growth in regional New Zealand for many years to come.

“Powerco distributes electricity to more than 320,000 homes and businesses across the North Island. Many of the poles and wires which make up the bulk of New Zealand's electricity networks were installed in the 1950s and 1960s and this programme will see these ageing assets upgraded and replaced with more modern and resilient equipment.

“Our team of engineers, based in the areas we serve, have developed a detailed programme of works which will replace 27,500 poles and crossarms over a five-year period, as well as 1,600 kilometres of overhead lines.”

Mr Barbour said Powerco had prepared detailed regional investment plans to future-proof fast-growing areas such as Tauranga, as well as replacing old equipment in areas from Wairarapa in the south east, to Coromandel in the north and coastal Taranaki in the west.

Funding the investment programme will require a small increase in the price Powerco charges for electricity. Powerco estimates the increase will be approximately $1 to $1.50 per household per week.

Any price increase needs the approval of the Commerce Commission. Mr Barbour said an application will be lodged with the Commission later in 2017, but first communities in all of the areas affected will be consulted and given the opportunity to provide feedback.

He said the investment plan aims to do three things:
• Keep regional New Zealand’s electricity networks safe and resilient
• Ensure regional New Zealand’s electricity networks are secure and able to manage and enable economic growth
• Future-proof regional New Zealand’s electricity networks to enable customers to take up the benefits from a range of emerging smart grid technologies

The Commerce Commission is expected to review Powerco’s plan and feedback from interested parties and make the final determination later this year.

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