Uniform line charge wanted

The Electricity Authority will be approached to create a uniform electricity line charge across Aurora Energy’s network.

The Dunedin City Council-owned company charges Dunedin consumers a cheaper rate than those in Central Otago and Wanaka.

The company is also proposing to the Commerce Commission a 23% average increase for Central Otago and Wanaka, compared with 16% for Dunedin and Queenstown, to raise $400million for overdue maintenance.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said yesterday it was up to the Commerce Commission to determine the total amount Aurora could charge, but it was the Electricity Authority that determined the method.

Aurora’s method of charging, spelt out in its ‘‘use-of-system pricing methodology’’, divides its network into three parts.

But Mr Cadogan said Aurora’s charging boundaries were arbitrary.

‘‘If it was district-ised so that everybody paid the same amount ... then that would change things significantly.

‘‘The amount Central Otago people would pay would drop by around a third, Queenstown would drop by about a tenth and Dunedin would go up by a bit under a quarter.’’

Mr Cadogan said he intended discussing the matter with the Electricity Authority ‘‘at the next convenient time’’.

The Electricity Authority is the Crown’s electricity market regulator.

Some community leaders in Wanaka and Central Otago have called for the DCC to pay back profits it had received from Aurora.

However, Mr Cadogan said although ‘‘many, many’’ Central Otago people believed the money should be paid back, it was not going to be. — ‘‘the people of Dunedin would say no.’’

Mr Cadogan said he was more concerned at finding out if Aurora was asking for more money than it ‘‘absolutely needs’’ to provide a safe and reliable network.

While power poles falling over could not be tolerated, he accepted there could be a case for some lack of reliability of service if a ‘‘gold-plated’’ network was going to cost an extravagant amount of money.

He also hoped the Commerce Commission could consider the $400million being raised over five years rather than three.

The Otago Regional Council will draft a submission to the Commerce Commission, advising against the price increase.

Councillor Michael Laws said, during an ORC meeting yesterday, the rise would only ‘‘exasperate’’ the Covid-19 effects and have negative environmental impacts.

‘‘The DCC’s had a role in creating the current crisis at Aurora Energy ... but now seeks to extend the consequences to both Central Otago and the Lakes region.’’



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