Mighty River Power

Finalist
2014

Mighty River Power says its successes in the past year have cemented its position as a strong player, well-positioned for growth in the country’s rapidly evolving electricity sector.

The period started with the company’s listing on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges – the first initial public offering by a Crown entity in more than a decade and one of the largest IPOs in Australia and New Zealand during 2013, and with a shareholder base of more than 100,000.

It also included the commissioning of the company’s third large-scale geothermal generation plant in five years and the successful deployment by Mercury Energy of its free Good Energy Monitor (GEM) – a product since used by more than 130,000 of its customers.

Mighty River Power says it did well to navigate the path from a State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) to a listed company, while also dealing with a year of challenging hydrology and the regulatory uncertainty created by the plans of the Labour and Green parties to establish a ‘single-buyer’ electricity market if they are successful at the coming national elections.

The company remains on track to meet its IPO forecasts despite weak hydro conditions. The commissioning of the 82 MW Ngatamariki power station has increased geothermal output to more than 40 per cent of Mighty River Power’s total annual production, and improved the company’s resilience alongside its hydro generation.

Renewables

The $475 million project – the largest of its kind in the world – caps a decade-long geothermal development programme by Mighty River Power, including Kawarau in 2008, Nga Awa Purua in 2010 and the most recent Ngatamariki station.

The investment of more than $1.4 billion during that time and the completion of these three major stations has added sufficient renewable capacity to supply 330,000 households and has taken about 2.3 million tonnes of emissions out of the country’s annual energy mix, by displacing fossil fuel generation.

Mighty River Power says the programme has also improved the company’s - and the country’s - resilience against periods of drought. It has also deepened the company’s geothermal competencies and will provide inter-generational value for Maori landowners and their beneficiaries.

Mighty River Power says the projects are an example of the company’s broader commitment to sustainable use of the country’s natural resources for the benefit of not only the company but local communities, the country and a broad constituency of New Zealanders.

GEM, GLO-BUG

The company is also using its advanced metering technology to benefit its customers by helping them better manage their energy use and lower their costs.

About 45 per cent of Mercury Energy’s customers have engaged with the GEM online monitoring tool. They are saving more than 3 per cent on average and are on track to save a combined total of more than $2 million on their annual bills.

As a result, Mighty River Power says Mercury’s brand health and customer satisfaction measures have also “improved dramatically”. That has in turn improved brand loyalty and stickiness within its customer base.

The company is also using the same technology to help low-income consumers manage their spending on electricity and reduce the cost of supply.

Mighty River Power says its GLO-BUG product is an example of social responsibility through commercial innovation. Developed in-house, GLO-BUG is now being used by 17,000 customers who are on average saving more than $300 a year in their total cost of electricity supply.

GLO-BUG, with the support of community and budgeting services, has helped lower the company’s disconnection rates from a high of 0.9 per cent in 2006 to 0.4 per cent in 2009 and 0.1 per cent last year – a stand-out in the industry.

Mighty River Power says GLO-BUG is a potential solution to an industry-wide issue. It is now looking to expand its reach nationwide on the back of the on-going roll-out of smart (AMI) meters nationally.

The Overall Energy Company of the Year Award category is sponsored by Port Taranaki