AWARDS FINALIST: Powerco – $1.27b CPP delivery

17 Aug 2023

Powerco has achieved a significant milestone by successfully completing its $1.27 billion customised price-quality path.

The proposal represented a 33 per cent increase in network investment over that in the preceding five years and was the first large-scale application lodged with the Commerce Commission.

Unlike the CPP granted after the Canterbury earthquakes, Powerco’s application was driven entirely by an internal assessment of the level of network investment and improvements needed to meet their customers’ future energy needs.

Powerco’s objectives included providing a safe, reliable and secure energy supply for customers, delivered by a network that supported regional growth and enabled future energy choices.

The company held meetings and forums which were attended by representatives from electricity retailers, major customers, councils and stakeholder groups. Social media advertising reached around 92,000 users in Powerco’s distribution areas. A consultation document was published, targeting different audiences.

PwC and Colmar Brunton were engaged to run form surveys, which targeted more than 1500 residential and business customers to establish overall service preferences in relation to the price paid. 

The opening of the firm’s $5 million Network Operations Centre and the introduction of its enterprise resource planning system were significant steps in increasing Powerco’s capacity to deliver the CPP and set the company up for future electrification and resilience investment growth.

Projects, renewals

The programme has seen Powerco invest in major new projects, renewals and maintenance, vegetation management, new technology and upgrades to their systems and processes while keeping prices affordable for customers.

Major projects included the $27.4 million upgrade of Palmerston North’s supply, including new high-voltage cable work in the city centre, crossings over the Manawatū River and a new substation in the CBD.

More than $20 million was invested to secure and enhance supply in Whanganui, including the provision of alternative circuits and a new high-voltage switchroom at the Peat Street substation.

The company also invested $43 million building a 110 kV line from Transpower’s Arapuni substation in South Waikato to Powerco’s Putāruru substation.

Highlights from the CPP delivery snapshot include the company replacing or reinforcing approximately 21,500 poles and 950 kilometres of overhead line, stabilising its network quality performance, investing about $803 million in network renewal and growth, delivering 11 major infrastructure projects and achieving ISO55001 certification.

Powerco says it saw the benefits of its expanded capability and more efficient processes in the final year of the programme when a record amount of work was delivered.

It says supporting Aotearoa’s economic growth and enabling communities to thrive long term were key drivers throughout the CPP.

And it says its capacity to deliver a large-scale, ongoing programme of work stands them in great stead to enable New Zealand’s energy transition and maintain resilient energy supplies.

The Network Initiative of the Year Award category is sponsored by Utilities Disputes