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Consumer Gains From Power Industry Forum

Over the period of October 27-29 delegates from Power Network, Generation, and Contract Maintenance Companies will be meeting in Methven to assimilate the latest technologies and services to improve power system reliability and enhance other electricity consumer-related outcomes.

Hailed by the organisers as being of world-class standing, the gathering is claimed to be the first such event held in New Zealand for many years.

Consumer-driven reforms in the NZ Electricity Industry were initiated by a damning report delivered by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs in January 1997 which identified many areas of monopoly abuse and consumer supply contract shortcomings. The 1998 Electricity Reform Act progressed the reform process significantly with a major legislative impact on the Power Industry aimed at delivering the Consumer lower pricing. Further formal reform this year controlling pricing and reliability of supply was unsuccessful but nonetheless has essentially been embraced by most Industry sectors.

Convened by internationally-regarded Christchurch-based power technology leaders, AVO New Zealand and AVO New Zealand Consulting, the Conference is already being applauded as a concerted response by the Industry to demonstrate to the Consumer its commitment to delivering both the intended and implied outcomes of the recent power industry reform process.

"AVO New Zealand has long been concerned at a rapidly-declining public confidence in the Power Industry, particularly fuelled by the Mercury incident and a raft of adverse viewpoints expressed during the last round of Industry reforms", comments Managing Director Mr Trevor Lord, himself a power engineer.

"Whilst there were certain commercial and technical areas of the Industry where focus was merited, the connotations delivered publicly during the process failed to reflect the fundamental technical competence and long-standing customer-driven focus of the Industry", Mr Lord states.

"Supplying electricity to the Consumer is essentially a very technical process. Recent Industry reforms have served to restore the Industry's focus to that process in a positive manner, clearly centred upon the Consumer outcomes. This event aims to deliver more refined tools to ensure power systems have increased reliability, that the incremental costs of this are minimal, and that any supply problems that arise are either pre-empted through good diagnostic processes or are made good even quicker", explains Mr Lord.

"For over three years AVO New Zealand have delivered an active consultancy, training, and re-equipping programme focussed upon delivering a higher and more uniform level of Power Industry "best practice". Whilst there is still a distance to go, this has been a major success to date and of immense benefit to the consumer already".

"With few comparable forums offered world-wide, AVO decided to extend our Industry services by bringing such a forum and international authorities to NZ. Given the high level of Industry support for this Conference from Generation, Transmission, Distribution, and Contracted Maintenance sectors of the Electricity Industry, it serves to present to the Electricity Consumer a very significant demonstration of on-going Industry commitment to satisfying the Consumer's wider expectations from the reforms", says Mr Lord.

Those attending the Conference will be addressed by at least 11 authorities in their fields, many travelling from as far afield as the UK, USA, and Australia. Also, several new diagnostic technologies for assessing condition of generators, transformers, cables, and switchgear are to be released for the first time at the event.

With registrations being in popular demand, the Conference is drawing attendees also from throughout the Pacific and Australia.

ENDS...

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