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Commission confirms greater transparency requirements for lines companies as energy transition continues

The Commerce Commission has published its final decision on the changes to information New Zealand’s local lines companies must disclose publicly as they adapt to an increasing demand on their networks, driven in large part by New Zealand’s commitment to decarbonisation.

The Commission requires all 29 lines companies that distribute electricity locally in New Zealand to publish information each year on aspects of their performance. New Zealand’s commitment to a low carbon future, together with resilience expectations, has prompted the Commission to review current disclosure requirements, in particular as they relate to decarbonisation, asset management and quality of service.

The Commission’s General Manager of Infrastructure Regulation, Andy Burgess, says the Commission’s final decision on information disclosure requirements for lines companies will help ensure information provided “remains fit-for-purpose and reflects the external factors being faced by the sector, with consumers benefiting from greater transparency and accountability”.

In making its decision, Mr Burgess says the Commission took into account feedback received from stakeholders following its draft decision in August 2023.

“Some of this feedback is reflected in the final decision, including extending timelines for lines companies to comply with new requirements, reducing costs for lines companies by adjusting assurance requirements for information, and removing some out-dated requirements.”

Mr Burgess says the environment in which lines companies operate is constantly changing and while that is challenging, it also drives home the importance of investing in innovation to create long-term solutions.

“We’re seeing climate-related events put increasing pressure on the network. For example, trees falling onto lines during more frequent and often more intense storm events are causing outages and damage to the network. To that end, our final decision requires lines companies to provide more detail on how they are managing vegetation near electricity lines to reduce potential damage. This may also help inform wider policy and practice.

“Another big challenge for lines companies is improving network capacity – including making better use of existing capacity – to cope with increased electrification as a result of New Zealand’s commitment to reduce the use of fossil fuel-based energy. The uptake of electric vehicles for example invariably puts more pressure on local networks. Our final decision includes the disclosure of more meaningful information on network constraints and non-network solutions – information that can be used to develop solutions like demand-side management and storage as well as helping reveal where there is spare capacity available for new connections,” says Mr Burgess.

This is the second package of material changes as part of the Commission’s ongoing targeted information disclosure reviews across all sectors that are subject to information disclosure regulation. Further information about information disclosure requirements for local lines companies can be found on the Commission’s website.

 

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