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Power Price Rise in May With Wintry Weather

Electricity Price’s Rise in May as Wintry Weather Hits.

The recent cold snap had New Zealanders clamouring for their heaters, which contributed to a significant rise in average wholesale electricity prices. Demand for electricity in May was around 3.5% higher than this time last year and around 4.5% higher than in April.

Wintry weather over much of the country in the latter half of the month saw snow fall rather than rain. Consequent low inflows into the country’s main hydro lakes meant national storage levels continued to drop. At the end of May national storage was at 1,859 GW/h, 63% of the average for that time of year, with South Island storage at 64% of average.

Although monthly average prices at the two reference point locations fell at the beginning of May reflecting mild weather, the cooler temperatures of the last two weeks of the month and low inflows saw prices climb considerably.

Key North Island generation was out for a planned maintenance inspection during part of May, contributing to the wholesale price increase. The North Island continued to supply electricity to the South during certain times and this, combined with South Island transmission constraints, also affected prices.

Benmore, the South Island reference point, showed an increase in the average monthly price to 7.45 c/kWh in May, up from 6.46 c/kWh in April. The lower North Island reference point at Haywards recorded a similar price increase to 7.55 c/kWh, up from April’s figure of 6.74 c/kWh. The average price at Otahuhu, the reference point for the upper North Island, also rose to 7.39 c/kWh from 6.73 c/kWh in April.
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