1 Mar 2012

Genesis to retire Huntly generation unit by year end

12:11 pm on 1 March 2012

New Zealand's third biggest electricity company says it is no longer willing to provide emergency backup during an electricity crisis when it alone has to bear the cost.

Genesis Energy says it will put one, and possibly two, of the six generation units at Huntly into storage removing 500 megawatts of capacity from the country's electricity system.

The Huntly Power station in Waikato burns gas or coal and has been a vital generator of last resort during several power crises of the last decade but its electricity is very expensive to produce, and its fixed costs are very high.

Three years ago Genesis Energy warned it could not afford to run it as an insurer-of-last-resort for New Zealand as a whole, unless it got some financial help.

Since then, nothing has come in, and since one unit needs re-certification anyway the company says it will go into storage at the end of this year.

The second unit is forecast for storage at the end of 2014, but Genesis' chief executive Albert Brantley says the company's keeping its options open.

Neither will be dismantled but could take many months to bring back into operation if necessary.

The state-owned power company's half year profit to December soared 125% to $38.3 million, fuelled by higher gas and electricity sales and its third share of petroleum sales from the Kupe oil and gas field.

The acquisition of Tekapo hydro stations and a 30% rise in the wholesale priced boosted electricity revenue.