Orion bids to hike power prices

By Paul Harper

Canterbury powerlines company Orion wants to hike power prices by 10 per cent to help pay to fix earthquake damaged infrastructure. Photo / supplied
Canterbury powerlines company Orion wants to hike power prices by 10 per cent to help pay to fix earthquake damaged infrastructure. Photo / supplied

Canterbury powerlines company Orion is making another bid to raise power prices after the company was hit hard by the region's earthquakes.

Orion is to take a case to the Commerce Commission to raise prices by 10 per cent, as it looks to cope with a drop in power usage and a multi-million dollar quake bill.

It comes after Orion yesterday announced a $54 million profit, although $21 million of that was from an insurance payout.

"While the profit figure looks high, and is similar to Orion's annual profits achieved before the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, it's extremely important not to take it at face value," Orion chairperson Craig Boyce said.

"In particular, this level of insurance receipts won't be repeated again and we still have huge costs to come from post-quake repairs.

The company has to meet quake bill of more than $70 million, as well as a 15 per cent drop in usage.

"Our customer base has shrunk, so revenue is down, and will likely stay down for several years," said Boyce.

In February this year, Orion made a bid to increase prices by more than the rate of inflation, but it was turned down by Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.

The company, who is the monopoly supplier for the region, is to go back to the Commerce Commission before next February to apply to have prices raised.

Boyce told Radio New Zealand the company was first in the industry to make such an application as a result of a natural disaster, and was hopeful it would be successful.

The company said it was earmarked $870m in spending over the next ten years to help with the rebuild of the city.

Orion is owned by the Christchurch City and Selwyn District councils.

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