12 Jul 2011

Whirinaki power plant sale delayed

2:03 pm on 12 July 2011

Electricity users may continue to pay for the Whirinaki power plant until next year as the sale process faces delays.

The Government is trying to sell the diesel-fired reserve plant, after Meridian decided it didn't want it as part of industry-wide asset swaps to boost competition.

The Hawke's Bay plant was meant to be sold by the end of September, but the Ministry of Economic Development has advised that while a sale will be concluded soon, ownership is unlikely to change hands until the end of the year at earliest.

At the moment, the cost of running the station is funded by the Electricity Authority through a levy on power companies.

That runs out in September, and now the authority is having to consult with levy payers to arrange for the costs to be covered for longer - possibly until October next year.

The Major Energy Users Association's is relaxed about a delay because the sales process is complex.