More time requested for Aurora decision

Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Photo: Gerard O'Brien
A decision by the Dunedin City Council about whether to sell Aurora Energy could be made in July.

In the meantime, the council could receive independent advice or have information peer-reviewed.

It had been expected the council might make a call this week or early next month about whether to put the electricity distribution company on the market.

However, Dunedin City Holdings Ltd (DCHL) directors requested more time to consider public submissions and possibly provide further advice, council chief executive Sandy Graham said yesterday.

DCHL had concluded there was a compelling case to sell its subsidiary company and this would result in the council owning a diversified fund instead worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

A proposal was pitched to the public in March and consultation ran through April. The vast majority of more than 700 public submissions were against a sale and this was reflected in a hearing on May 14-16.

An update was sought during a council meeting yesterday.

The meeting agenda signalled Aurora deliberations could happen next month, but July was more likely, Ms Graham said.

One issue for the council is some information about a potential sale is public and some is confidential, as it is commercially sensitive.

Cr Jim O’Malley asked if the DCHL response to a public hearing would be public.

Ms Graham said she expected "a good chunk" of content would be presented publicly, but "an element" might not be.

Aurora owns and operates the electricity distribution networks for Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes.

Its total assets are worth more than $800 million.

It was evident from council documentation DCHL expected the company could sell for more than $1 billion.

Many submitters argued the company should be viewed as a utility worth retaining.