Big electricity users losing patience with local lines companies

By Patrick Smellie

Photo / File
Photo / File

Large electricity users with national operations are losing patience with local electricity line network owners' slow progress towards having common terms and conditions of service, including agreement on when it's day or night.

In its monthly update, the Major Electricity Users Group says it is "looking for real leadership" from the Electricity Network Association on the issue and that "if the sector isn't proactive, then MEUG will be looking to the Electricity Authority to involve itself".

Differing contractual terms among the country's 29 regional regulated monopoly electricity networks are a longstanding bugbear in the electricity sector.

"A number of MEUG members have relationships with multiple lines companies around the country and default distribution agreements with consistency in terms and definitions will significantly reduce business costs," said MEUG executive director Ralph Matthes in the organisation's newsletter.

"For example, in a country the size of New Zealand, the fact that a number of electricity distribution businesses have different definitions of day time and night time is an impediment to the efficient management of business operations."

"Real leadership extends beyond stating an expectation or drafting voluntary guidelines without working to actually achieve implementation," said Matthes. "Current timeframes being discussed for achieving commonality in basic terms and definitions, namely 10 years, is equally unacceptable in a sector that should be contributing to reduced compliance costs, enhancing production efficiency and making New Zealand as internationally competitive as possible. That is, working in the interests of NZ Inc."

In comments emailed to BusinessDesk, the chief executive of the Electricity Networks Association, Graeme Peters, said a two-year project to standardise prices and definitions had just been completed.

However, he said "the guidelines are only effective if they are followed by ENA members".

"We strongly encouraged all distribution companies to work toward adopting the guideline in their next and future pricing changes."

The association is planning an audit next month to identify the sector's "champions and where the gaps are".

- BusinessDesk

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