Commission announces enhanced information disclosure requirements for Aurora Energy

The Commerce Commission has today announced a suite of enhanced information disclosure (ID) requirements on Aurora Energy to give consumers and other stakeholders greater visibility of what Aurora is doing to address safety and reliability issues on its network under a customised price-quality path (CPP) approved in March this year.

Associate Commissioner John Crawford said that when the Commission agreed in March to a CPP allowing Aurora to recover up to $563.4 million from its consumers over five years to repair, upgrade, maintain and operate its network, it was clear that enhanced ID requirements would be an important part of the package.

“We have consulted extensively with Aurora, its consumers and other stakeholders over the last 18 months and it is clear that Aurora needs to improve its relationships with its community,” he said. “The suite of measures we are putting in place today will provide a framework for Aurora to lift engagement and show consumers, other stakeholders and us as regulator that it is doing what it committed to in the CPP.

“We will continue to monitor Aurora’s compliance with the information disclosure regime and the commitments it made under the CPP but the onus is now on Aurora to improve its engagement in line with these requirements and fix its network problems. We have already seen some positive steps towards this.”

Aurora will be required to develop a suite of forward-looking plans by 31 March 2022 that set out its plans for spending on the network throughout the CPP period as well as how it will improve processes, performance and safety. These are:

  • A Development Plan setting out how it plans to improve its processes in a range of areas important to consumers, including monitoring voltage quality, planned outages and asset management practices.
  • A Project and Programme Delivery Plan detailing how it plans to spend money to repair, upgrade, maintain and operate its network.
  • A Safety Delivery Plan detailing how its planned network spend is expected to reduce network safety risks to as low as reasonably practicable.

These plans must be presented in each of its three major pricing regions – Dunedin, Central Otago and Wanaka, and Queenstown – by 31 May 2022. Progress against the plans must be made public by 31 August each year via an Annual Delivery Report (ADR), which must then be presented in public meetings in each of the three pricing regions before the end of October. An interim ADR will be required in 2022 given that the forward-looking plans will only have been in place a few months.

The company will also need to publish information every March to help consumers understand how their prices are set. This includes publication of Aurora’s cost of supply model showing how its overall allowable revenues will be recovered from each of its three main pricing regions, alongside clear examples of what this means for average consumers in each of the regions.

Mr Crawford said that Aurora is also required to commission independent experts to review and report on its progress against its plans and the quality of its engagement by 1 March 2024. “Aurora will then need to publicly demonstrate how it intends to refine its plans in response to recommendations from these mid-period reviews and, if necessary, correct its course for the second half of the CPP period,” he said.

The additional ID requirements are set out in a reasons paper and determination on the Commission’s website. An infographic outlining what information consumers and stakeholders can expect to see and when can also be found on the website.

The enhanced ID requirements for Aurora are on top of the standard ID requirements that apply to all the country’s 29 electricity distribution businesses (EDBs).

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