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Electricity Retailer Brings Cheaper Power to the People

29 July 2011

The Farmer, the Sparky and the No-frills Electricity Retailer Bring Cheaper Power to the People

Talla Burn Generation Limited’s privately developed and owned run of river hydro-electric scheme, which will provide local Central Otago residents a cheaper power option, officially opens today (Friday 29 July) with Finance Minister Bill English switching on the generator in a gumboot-clad event held in a spectacular river-side, winter setting.

The scheme, located on the Talla Burn on Beaumont Station, 20 km from Millers Flat, was the brainchild of Alan Hore, the farmer and Jeff Wilson, the sparky who saw the potential to harness the river’s power.

“The idea really came about from a conversation we had in a paddock over the back of a ute,” says Jeff Wilson. “It continued around the kitchen table with our families all involved and four years later we are opening the station. We’ve rattled a few cages to get our commercial investment going and plan to rattle them more to get a good power deal for consumers.

“We’d like a rethink of the Resource Management Act because there are ways to harness power without destroying the environment. This scheme has been developed and built by people who are part of this land. We respect and love it and will take care of it for our future generations,” he said.

The station is named the Paul Wilson Station in memory of Jeff and Sue Wilson’s son, Paul, the project manager, who died in February while taking water samples upstream from the powerhouse and the official opening drew a crowd of family, friends and energy sector leaders from many parts of the country.

The scheme will generate 2.4MW of electricity to supply Central Otago households with power at a price expected to be considerably lower than competitors.

“The Talla Burn scheme is an example of the tenacity of the little battlers who put their money and ingenuity where their mouth is to overcome commercial and regulatory obstacles. The Hore and Wilson families have built an environmentally friendly generation scheme that contributes to the national goal of increasing energy self sufficiency,” says Pulse Managing Director Dene Biddlecombe. “We are thrilled to be working with Talla Burn to bring local consumers the Just Energy opportunity to save on their power bills annually and be able to choose our low cost services as a retailer who genuinely puts customers first.”

Pulse, an independent no-frills electricity retailer listed on the stock exchange, has 27,000 customers signed to its Just Energy brand and has been acquiring new customers at around 1,600 a month to make it one of the fastest growing energy retailers in the country. It is on track to meet growth and break even projections and will have a secure capital base once shareholders confirm a major equity investment by Buller Electricity Limited at a special general meeting on August 18.

Mr Biddlecombe said that the retail partnership with Talla Burn Generation was a perfect fit as Pulse’s strategy was to secure supply volumes at a fair price from a range of generators around the country to provide provincial and rural customers with a value-based, transparent and customer focused supply option.

“We are appreciative of government efforts to level the playing field for the small retailer with the reforms being rolled out by the new Electricity Authority,” he said. “These will create opportunities for more independent generation schemes to be developed which will allow independents to source supply at a fair price and pass those savings on to consumers.”

Mr Biddlecombe acknowledged that exposure to sudden price spikes, lack of liquidity in the retail spot market and dragging the chain to open up the market to genuine competition to deliver lower prices for consumers were still obstacles but he believed the reforms would bring positive benefits to customers in the long term.

Talla Burn and Pulse Key Facts

• Run-of-the-river hydro scheme on the Talla Burn on Beaumont Station, 20 km from Millers Flat
• Generates 2.4MW of electricity to supply Central Otago households
• Environmentally friendly
• Just Energy, Pulse’s main consumer brand, is expected to be considerably cheaper for the average household than other retailers with its no frills, value offer
• Just Energy is acquiring new customers at a rate of around 1,600 per month to be one of the fastest growing electricity retailers in the country
• Pulse tries to source secured supply volumes from smaller generators around the country and reduce hedging costs
• Pulse is listed on the NZX
• Buller Electricity Ltd intends to take a majority stake in Pulse to secure its capital base. Shareholders will be asked to approve the deal at a special general meeting next month.


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