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On the job . . . Network Waitaki chief executive Geoff Douch at the company's premises in Chelmer St. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Network Waitaki consumers are getting a discount on their power bills as part of a $1.36million payout by the power lines company they own through a trust.

The discount will apply to this or next month’s electricity bills and takes the total discount since 2010 to more than $21million.

Network Waitaki supplies electricity to more than 13,000 consumers between Shag Point and the Waitaki River and inland to the Hakataramea Valley and Ohau.

All the shares in the company are owned by the elected Waitaki Power Trust, on behalf of consumers.

Network Waitaki, in consultation with the trust, pays out a discount based on the financial year’s surplus, taking into account its future requirements, chief executive Geoff Douch said.

Most residential and small business electricity consumers will get a credit on their bills of $66.30.

“We’ve got a discount methodology, which we publish at the beginning of the year, which says how we’re going to do it – and that does vary year to year,” he said.

“Part of it is to do with the performance of the business. We set ourselves an annual operating budget and if we have a particularly good year, i.e. our volume of energy through the network is higher than we’d budgeted for, then that can result in a surplus or if we run the business successfully and make more profit than was expected, for various reasons, then we can declare some of that as a variable part to the discount.”

The company budgeted for a $1million base discount, and anything above that is based on a formula.

“That takes into consideration how much we need for future years, how much we reinvest in the network and funding other initiatives within the business,” Mr Douch said.

Network Waitaki had a large investment programme over the next 10 years to ensure the network remained “safe and reliable”, he said.

The company was proud to be part of, and give back to, the Waitaki community, by reducing the cost of electricity to homes and businesses and through its community sponsorship programme, tertiary education scholarships and trades training opportunities, he said.

“We’re not a privately held company, so we’re not paying dividends back to shareholders.

“We’re distributing the proceeds of our business operation back through the community.”

A lot of the company’s revenue came from irrigation, he said.

“The summer irrigation period effectively tells us how much money we make for the year.

“After the summer period .. we work out what our year-end financial position is going to be and give the discount based on that.”

Meanwhile, the company is calling for applications for its community sponsorship grants.

In the past, the sponsorship grants have been given to a wide range of projects and recipients including community support initiatives, equipment and tournament costs for sports team, maintenance and upgrading of sporting facilities.

“Many of our recipients are small organisations and even the smallest grant can make a huge difference to them, whether it’s a local cultural event or helping a sports team get away to a tournament,” Mr Douch said.

In 2019, sponsorship grants of more than $100,000 were distributed to 45 community and sports groups in North Otago.

Applications for 2020 grants close on May 1.

Details of the discount and the grants are on the Network Waitaki website: networkwaitaki.co.nz.