The weather gods treated Auckland-based electricity generator-retailer MightyRiverPower kindly in the third quarter of the current financial year, with higher wholesale prices and increased total generation offsetting falling retail customer numbers.

With its partial privatisation slated for later in the year, MRP made no change to previous earnings guidance, but announced generation volumes in the three months to March 31 were up 14 per cent on the corresponding period a year earlier, while electricity sales were up 7 per cent.

Likewise, average prices for electricity were much higher than in the same period a year earlier, at $89.91 per Megawatt hour, compared with $57.72 per MWh in the same period a year earlier.

For the nine months to March 31, the average volume weighted average energy price (VWAP) has clocked in at $83.33 per MWh, compared with $56.65 per MWh for the same period the previous year.


"Wholesale market prices were significantly elevated during the quarter, reflecting very dry conditions in the South Island," the company said in a statement. "Conversely, strong rainfall in the Waikato hydro system catchment resulted in inflows into Lake Taupo at 38 per cent above average, supporting higher generation and good storage levels."

MRP controls a string of dams on the Waikato River, whereas its major hydro-electricity competitors are more exposed to South Island catchments.

As a result, trading in Contracts for Difference was up 54 per cent on the same time last year, reflecting "new short term inter-generator contracts as competitors sought to manage their risk due to the adverse national hydrology conditions."

MRP warned its geothermal output would show a permanent drop of around 30 Gigawatt hours from the current quarter, following its sale of 10 per cent of its interest in the Nga Awa Purua geothermal power station to its Maori joint venture partner.

Tough retail competition continued, with the VWAP gained from customers rising just 1 per cent over the previous year, to $111.45 per MWh.

While retail customer numbers fell by a further 2,000 over the quarter, and are down 18,000 on March 2011, MRP said sales volumes were unchanged, and the company benefited from a 14 per cent rise in sales to commercial customers in the quarter under review, compared with the same period last year.