Meridian's profits tumbled, but the man at the top got more than $800,000 in extra payments.

Former Meridian Energy chief executive Tim Lusk was paid $1.37 million, including more than $800,000 in bonuses, during his last six months with the state-owned power company.

Mr Lusk's pay during a period when Meridian's profits fell sharply was disclosed in its annual report, which also revealed the company's generous pay to other top executives.

The company paid $1.84 million in chief executive remuneration during the year to June.

That included $1.37 million to Mr Lusk, who left last December, and $471,605 to his replacement, Mark Binns, who took over the next month.


Mr Lusk's pay was made up of $554,409 in fixed remuneration and $812,177 in "at risk performance incentive payments", or bonuses.

But the year to June was not a good one for Meridian, New Zealand's largest power company. Its net profit fell from $303.1 million to $74.6 million.

The company has four windfarms and seven hydro plants.

But its financial performance was hit by the worst inflows into its hydro lakes for 79 years, which forced it to buy more electricity in the wholesale market than it sold.

Nevertheless, the company's top 10 executives, excluding chief executives, received average annual salaries of $656,000.

Meridian chairman Chris Moller defended the amount paid to Mr Lusk, saying the large short-term bonuses were effectively accumulated over 18 months, and $182,266 in bonuses for long-term performance related to a three-year period, including "a record year" for the firm.