The Hawke's Bay Power Consumers Trust is entering the first year of the post-cheque era with a $230 dividend to all power consumers in Hawke's Bay connected to the Unison Networks supply.
The annual dividend stems from the public interest in the publicly-elected Hawke's Bay Power Board, amid the deregulation of the New Zealand electricity supply industry and the Energy Companies Act 1992.
Registered consumers will be contacted from October 18 about methods of payment, but a statement from trust chairwoman Diana Kirton highlights the cheque "will NOT be in the mail", because banks no longer process cheques, and the only way the trust can distribute the dividend payment now is by direct credit.
"The trust could see this coming two years ago and commenced the process of encouraging power consumers to register for the direct credit option of payment," she said. "As a result, 67 per cent already receive their dividend direct to their bank accounts.
"This has given them the benefit of earlier payment, no bank queues and no lost cheques. Our challenge now is to capture the remaining 33 per cent power consumers to ensure every eligible power consumer in Hawke's Bay receives the benefit of the dividend payment."
An awareness campaign starts late next month to ensure consumers are ready to go when the registration portal opens on October 18, and people will have four weeks to register for direct credit or check their details if they have registered previously.
The dividend is the same as in 2020, having risen from $225 a year earlier, and Kirton said: "This is a pleasing result considering the challenging year that was experienced in 2020."
Unison Networks has returned a dividend totalling $15.8 million to the trust, meaning consumers will have received more than $219m from trust ownership since 1999.
The network held its annual meeting today, with a report showing that despite the global uncertainty caused by Covid-19, the Unison Group's overall financial performance for the year was more favourable than expected, with net profit after tax of $33m.
Group chairman Philip Hocquard said: "Throughout the year, including all stages of the government lockdowns, the company remained committed to its purpose of enabling communities to prosper, by delivering customers' energy needs through a dynamic, flexible and sustainable electricity system.
"Unison has an important role to play by providing a resilient network and response capability to more frequent and extreme weather events and enabling consumers to contribute to environmental sustainability through access to renewable energy sources."
Chief executive Ken Sutherland said Unison said that during the year Unison completed the design of an innovative sustainable zone sub-station while planning the replacement of the 11kV switchboard at Windsor zone substation.
He said the electricity network continued its strong performance this year, which reinforces the positive impact that Unison's smart network investment is having on its asset performance and visibility.
"This assists us in delivering a safe, reliable supply to customers," Sutherland said.
Key financial highlights for the 2020-2021 year were group revenue of $242.5m, net profit after tax of $33m, capital expenditure of $57.1m and the final dividend.