WEL Networks

Finalist
2013

WEL Networks is well on its way to achieving its ambition to develop a strong multi-utility business and is constantly looking for new ways to deliver better value and efficiency to its customers.

The community-owned Hamilton-based electricity network company delivered a strong financial performance in the year ended March 2013. Its key performance indicators put it in the top quartile for the industry, and its cost per customer is about 27 per cent below the industry average.

In the past year WEL Networks invested $51 million in capital works to keep its network in top condition for the people of the Waikato.

WEL Networks has been leading the lines industry in rolling out advanced meters and is committed to installing 86,000 Smart Boxes on its network at an expected cost of $32 million.

Smarter networks

The company has already installed more than 18,000 Smart Boxes in the Northern and Western parts of its network and is already benefiting from detailed outage notifications and the use of real-time voltage polling to monitor power quality and reliability of supply.

The upgrade of its old SCADA system has been completed and transformed it into a state-of-the-art network management system (NMS), which is now integrated with the company’s growing fleet of Smart Boxes.

Time-of-use pricing has already been introduced to retailers who now have the option to offer customers the option of shifting their energy consumption outside of peak hours, towards the medium term goal of peak demand reduction.

In a Smart Network ‘success story’, the impacts of a fault on an 11kV cable into Raglan were quickly minimised thanks to the combination of Smart Boxes into the NMS. There was a risk of under-voltage issues after supply to the western side of Raglan had to be re-routed, but using real-time information meant WEL Networks could control voltage set points at the zone substations and voltage regulators to stay within the maximum and minimum voltage levels.

With the build now more than a quarter complete, WEL Networks is looking at new opportunities that could flow on from its Smart Network investment, including its meter data services to electricity retailers, and developing smart water metering capability.

Ultrafast broadband contract

WEL Networks is also one of only two lines companies in New Zealand to be awarded a contract for the roll-out out of the Government’s ultra-fast broadband network.

The company says it is leading the country in build rate, with its work running ahead of time and on budget to date.

Importantly, WEL Networks sees fibre as an opportunity to almost double the assets on its balance sheet and provide future dividends for its owner, the WEL Energy Trust.

As a community-owned organisation, in the year to March 2013, WEL Networks has returned an annual discount of $21.8 million (including GST) to the community - equivalent to an average discount of $253 including GST to residential and small business consumers.

The Lines Company of the Year award category is sponsored by TE Connectivity.