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Commission clears Contact Energy Limited

Commission clears Contact Energy Limited to acquire Taranaki Combined Cycle

The Commerce Commission has approved an application from Contact Energy Limited (Contact), to acquire 100% of the shares in Stratford Power Limited, a 100% owned subsidiary of Natural Gas Holdings Corporation Limited (NGC), which owns Taranaki Combined Cycle thermal electricity generation plant (TCC).

Chair John Belgrave said the Commission is satisfied that the proposed acquisition would not have, nor would be likely to have, the effect of substantially lessening competition in the national markets for electricity generation and wholesaling, ancillary services or electricity retailing.

“The Commission has assessed the likely competitive impact of the proposed acquisition having regard to market concentration, potential for anti-competitive strategic behaviour, market coordination, entry conditions and other relevant factors.

“The Commission is satisfied that the proposed acquisition will not have, or be likely to have, the effect of substantially lessening competition in the market.”

Contact’s original application also sought clearance to acquire the Cobb hydroelectric power station. Contact later withdrew its application in respect of Cobb.

Mr Belgrave said the Commission will release its written decision soon.

Background The TCC plant was completed in 1998 and is a combined cycle thermal electricity generation plant situated at Stratford, which is capable of generating 354MW.

Contact Energy was established by the New Zealand government in November 1995 to introduce competition in the electricity market. Contact commenced operations in early 1996 when it acquired a portfolio of electricity and gas assets from the state owned electricity generator ECNZ, and was privatised in October 1998.

In addition to gas wholesale and retail, Contact is involved in the generation, wholesale and retail of electricity through a combination of hydro, geothermal and thermal generation. Contact owns nine power stations including Clyde and Roxburgh hydro stations, Wairakei and Ohaaki geothermal stations, and Otahuhu B and New Plymouth thermal stations.

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