Aurora to outline spending to community

Electricity customers curious about what Aurora Energy's $563.4million five-year spending programme will deliver can find out more this week.

A series of community meetings are to be held in Otago, starting with one in Dunedin today.

The lines company has mapped out how it intends to invest in Dunedin, Queenstown, Central Otago and Wanaka projects until 2026 and it has signalled caps imposed by the Commerce Commission to limit price hikes will have to be revisited.

The commission decided in March last year the company should be allowed to recover up to $563.4 million over five years from customers to enable it to invest in upkeep and improve network reliability and safety.

Aurora, a subsidiary of Dunedin City Holdings, which is owned by the Dunedin City Council, historically underspent on network upkeep, allowing its assets to deteriorate.

It produced three plans in March this year — about development, programme delivery and safety — as part of its obligations to the commission.

About $183 million is to be spent in Dunedin on renewing the network, improving capacity and enabling network connections.

The intended spend on network capital is almost $135 million in Central Otago and Wanaka and $49 million in Queenstown Lakes.

Further spending would be required for IT, keeping vegetation near lines under control and day-to-day operations.

Aurora signalled in March it would seek approval from the commission to carry out some work it had not anticipated was necessary when the commission made its determination a year earlier.

About $18 million more might be needed because of unexpected growth, much of it in Central Otago and some in Queenstown.

"We predicted slowing construction and economic activity in our region in the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic," the lines company said.

"However, despite the pandemic, we have observed a normal, or higher than normal, growth trend."

Adjustments to the company's programme have been made after risk assessments and some reliability improvement work was deferred.

Commission representative John Crawford said last year it was clear Aurora needed to improve its relationships with the community.

Aurora has said information relevant to each community will be presented at the drop-in events and experts from the company will be available to answer questions.

Assessments of progress in implementing the plans have to be made public by the end of August.

grant.miller@odt.co.nz

Comments

They should have been putting money aside for years where has it all gone but don't worry it's only half a billion dollars the mug customers can pay for it.

 

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