Higher storage, lower price

Newly-listed Meridian Energy received an average price for its generation in the three months ended September 22% lower than in the same quarter last year.

The company said in its quarterly operating report the lower price largely reflected the higher-than-average hydro storage position.

With above-average inflows and strong wind conditions, Meridian's New Zealand generation was 13% higher than in the same period last year.

''Meridian enjoyed solid generation market share, with weekly share well above 30% throughout the quarter, despite constraints on the HVDC.''

The high-voltage direct current (HVDC) cable carries power across Cook Strait between the North and South Islands.

The availability of the HVDC continued to be constrained by Transpower's work on Pole 2's new control system. Testing was scheduled to be completed before the end of the year, Meridian said.

The company said favourable wind conditions lifted wind generation by 24%, compared to the same quarter last year.

Meridian is obliged to report to the market regularly now it is listed on the NZX, following the Government selling down 49% of the state-owned enterprise. NZX rules require continuous disclosure.

Meridian said subdued national demand continued to be influenced by longer-term decline in industrial demand.

Demand during the quarter was flat compared to the previous corresponding period, despite a reduction in Norske Skog's Tasman mill consumption (around 1.3% of national demand) and mild winter temperatures.

Contributing to the quarter's demand was the progressive return of New Zealand Aluminium Smelter's load to the new contract volume of 572MW. That followed lower smelter consumption through the period of dry South Island conditions earlier in 2013, the company said.

Meridian's customer connection numbers increased by 3000 during the quarter, reflecting 3% growth in North Island connections.

Switching rates remained high, with a 12-month average churn rate of 18.9% by the end of September.

Meridian's retail sales volumes increased by 3% during the quarter and remained largely unchanged from the same quarter last year.

The company also announced to the market the first power was generated yesterday at the Mt Mercer wind farm in Victoria, Australia.

Mt Mercer was the third wind farm project Meridian had developed in Australia and complemented its existing Mt Millar wind farm in South Australia, chief executive Mark Binns said.

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