Household using less power a challenge for electricity industry

Kiwi households are steadily using less power each year, which poses a challenge for the electricity sector, says lines company Vector’s boss. Vector has reported revenue of $1.1 billion for the most recent financial year and profit of $274.4 million. Vector offers electricity and gas distribution services through Auckland. Chief executive Simon Mackenzie said it was a rapidly changing market. He said consumers were expecting more from all of the services they used, whether that was energy, telecommunications or banking. He said the industry was responding with more options for consumers, and the ability to access information about their energy use, whenever they wanted it. Some wanted to be able to engage 24/7, he said, while others wanted “set and forget” options. “The future is unpredictable,” he said. “New business models are evolving in response to new customers demands and these technologies. We have taken the strategic decision to embrace these changes rather than resist them.” Vector is identifying potential new markets, including Tesla batteries to save the power generated by home solar systems and business applications, charging stations for electric vehicles across Auckland and taking its metering expertise to the Australian market. Vector was among the first customers outside the US to take delivery of Tesla batteries. “In Glen Innes, east Auckland, we have installed a Tesla utility-scale Powerpack battery. It will allow Vector to continue to provide a secure power supply and defer the significant investment required for a new substation while we assess the effects of trends in the area such as declining household power consumption, renovation and infill housing, and the uptake of new energy...

New Zealand: Rolling out energy efficient homes

eBuilders in Whanganui made an eHaus conference to talk about building efficient and healthy homes. The conference discussed about on how to roll out “eHauses” on a larger scale. Director Baden Brown and co-director Jon Iliffe started eHaus in Whanganui in 2009. eHaus director Baden Brown said “it takes a paradigm shift in people’s thinking away from ‘How much can I buy now with what I’ve got’ versus ‘If I spend a little bit more today . . . my long-term costs are going to be less.” The company focuses on designing and building energy efficient homes which can predict how the house can perform when it comes to energy usage. “The house needed to be between 20-25 degrees Celsius throughout the entire year, and use “just a fraction” of the energy a normal home would use,” Mr Brown said. The design took into account factors such as the climate data in the location of the house, whether it was sheltered or exposed, how high it was above sea level, whether it was shaded by other buildings, which direction it faced, and the size of the windows. “Initial cost is more but long-term cost is significantly less than a standard home,” Mr. Brown added. “The reason it hasn’t been done to date here is basically it’s new technology for New Zealand. It’s been in Europe for a number of years. “You can actually model how it’s going to perform on paper and use that as a tool to improve its performance.” The company have 10 licensees around the country who were all represented at the conference in the weekend. The...

Unison Networks Defends Price Hike for Solar Users

Hawkes’ Bay electric company Unison Networks, removed the network charge discount of approximately $300 a year for solar panel users in April. The increase was challenged, but the Electricity Authority ruled this month that, while it was “not as clearly service-based and cost-reflective as it could be”, Unison had not breached the electricity industry participation code. Because of this several of Unison’s solar-using customers remain angry about the cost hike. “It was time for Unison to go into the solar business, rather than penalising those who embraced the technology,” Retiree Jenny Povey, of Hastings said. Fellow Hawke’s Bay solar panel user, lawyer Gary Tayler, also said Unison’s approach amounted to “monopoly abuse”. Unison told the authority its April tariff changes were an “interim step” to long-term fair pricing, which would be possible once more smart meters were installed on its network. “That data showed most of its customers with solar panels were using only about 50 per cent of the electricity output from their panels,” General Manager of business assurance Nathan Strong said. “Some people do go above and beyond to match their lifestyle to when the sun is shining, and they receive a lot of recognition for that,” he said. “You can reduce your lines charges quite significantly if you do align your consumption to your solar output, but we’re finding that’s not necessarily the case for a lot of the customers,” he added. All customers connected to the Unison network needed to carry the cost of maintaining that network, he said. It was built for “the cold dark winter nights, and solar doesn’t help out in away...

NZ: Gisborne’s Change in Electricity

Gisborne, East Coast and Wairoa region are now on its way for better electricity, as Eastland Network’s solar research trial to gather “real world data” is already launched. “Solar panels will be installed at up to 12 sites, including the roof at Eastland Network’s Carnarvon Street premises, in a trial designed to last between two and five years,” Eastland Group chief executive, Matt Todd, said. “The aim is to assess the technical and commercial impacts of new technologies on the distribution network, and to gain some real world data that can help local people to make informed decisions on emerging technology,” he added. Solar installations on the basis of unrealistic assumptions around power price increases, network tariffs and maintenance costs are being sold to Tairawhiti residents and that’s what he is concerned of. “It’s exciting that solar will form part of the region’s energy supply, however our ingoing assumption is that solar is not yet economic for the majority of grid connected properties. We also know that the price of solar is dropping rapidly so solar may well be economic sooner rather than later,” Mr Todd said. “I believe the future opportunity is for the company to have a closer relationship with customers who are producing their own electricity,” Mr Todd added. By gathering data about how people are likely to source and manage their electricity needs in the future, the trial will help Eastland Network understand the threats, opportunities and the economics of the technology. While the number of on-grid solar installations on the Eastland Network has doubled in the past six months to 114, he says that...