Media Releases & News

Aurora Energy to launch independent review

22 February 2024
Aurora Energy is undertaking an independent review of reliability performance across its three regional electricity networks in Dunedin, Central Otago, and Queenstown Lakes.

Conducted by Energy Networks Consulting, the review will particularly focus on the Central Otago network.

Chief Executive Richard Fletcher said that over the past few months, customers in Central Otago have been impacted by several unplanned interruptions to their electricity supply.

“We have taken steps to address all known faults and are investigating the cause of these network outages. We’ve commissioned the independent review to provide an additional, expert lens over these recent outages.

“It also provides an opportunity to review how Aurora Energy’s network reliability is tracking overall compared to others in the sector, and against reliability targets set for Aurora Energy by the sector regulator, the Commerce Commission”, Dr Fletcher says.

Aurora Energy is now in the third year of its customised price-quality path (CPP), a five-year investment programme approved by the Commerce Commission in 2021. It allows Aurora Energy to spend around $500 million over five years (ending March 2026) to address a historic backlog of safety related asset replacements and ensure the network has sufficient capacity to meet growing customer demand. 

“One of the commitments we made to customers and the Commerce Commission at the start of the CPP was to undertake an independent mid-period review to assess whether the money approved was being spent in the right areas and was delivering the expected network safety outcomes,” Dr Fletcher says.

“This review was recently completed and will shortly be submitted to the Commerce Commission. We expect the review to confirm that we have broadly delivered against our agreed targets and overall network health and safety has improved.”

Dr Fletcher says that despite the recent focus of Aurora Energy’s investment being the improvement of network safety outcomes and meeting demand growth, the company’s overall network reliability is trending well within the targets set by the Commerce Commission. In addition, performance has remained stable across large parts of the network.

But, this overall view does mask some underlying trends, particularly in Central Otago where reliability has deteriorated over the past few years and customers have been impacted by more unplanned outages.

“We are taking all practical steps to address this and the review by Energy Networks Consulting will help inform our thinking around the longer-term reliability improvement plans, which will extend beyond our current five-year investment plan,” Dr Fletcher says.

Aurora Energy’s latest Asset Management Plan, to be published on 1 April, will include an outline of this reliability improvement plan.

Dr Fletcher says the independent review will start at the end of February and will take two to three months to complete.