Aurora Energy (Aurora) has applied to the Commission to spend $383 million over the next 3 years (or $609 million over five years) to address safety and reliability issues on its network.
This is approximately double the allowances we set Aurora for the previous comparable periods.
Aurora says its investment plan is to address historic under-investment in its network which has resulted in a gradual deterioration of its equipment including lines, poles and transformers. In recent years this has resulted in a higher number of safety incidents and an increasing number of unplanned power cuts.
To pay for this, Aurora is proposing significant increases to power bills. You can read Aurora’s final proposal here.
It is clear that major investment is needed in Aurora’s network. Our role in Aurora’s investment plan is to set network reliability standards, as well as determining how much money it should be allowed to recover from its customers to carry out its plan and over what period.
We understand that now, more than ever, household incomes will be strained, especially in light of COVID-19. Many consumers will be struggling to pay their bills while needing a reliable electricity supply. As part of our assessment we will consider what options there are to manage price shocks, while ensuring Aurora’s investment plans are for the long-term benefit of their consumers.
All consultation documents, including consumer fact sheets on our assessment of Aurora’s investment plan and Aurora’s proposal are available below.
Aurora Energy owns and operates the poles, lines and other equipment that distribute electricity from Transpower’s national grid to 90,000 homes, farms and businesses in Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes. Aurora is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dunedin City Holdings Limited, owned by Dunedin City Council. Aurora’s charges are built into power bills and are something its consumers are required to pay no matter which power company they are with. Typically, electricity distribution charges make up about a quarter of an average residential consumer’s power bill.
We are seeking specific feedback from consumers throughout our assessment process.