Meridian Energy Limited is a New Zealand electricity generator and retailer. The company generates the largest proportion of New Zealand's electricity, generating 35 percent of the country's electricity in the year ending December 2014, and is the fourth largest retailer, with 14 percent of market share in terms of customers as of December 2015.
|Traded as||NZX: MEL
|Predecessor||Electricity Corporation of New Zealand|
|Founded||16 December 1998|
|Headquarters||Wellington, New Zealand|
|Mark Binns, Chief Executive|
|Revenue||NZ$2,375 million (2016)|
|NZ$650 million (2016)|
|Profit||NZ$185 million (2016)|
|Total assets||NZ$8,538 million (2016)|
|Total equity||NZ$5,050 million (2016)|
|Owner||New Zealand Government (51.02%, 2016)|
Number of employees
Meridian was one of three electricity companies formed from the break-up of the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand (ECNZ) in 1998–99, taking over the Waitaki River and the Manapouri hydro schemes. Originally a state-owned enterprise wholly owned by the New Zealand Government, the company was partially privatised in October 2013 by the Fifth National Government, with the government retaining a 51.02% shareholding.
Today, Meridian operates seven hydroelectric power stations and one wind farm in the South Island of New Zealand, four wind farms in the North Island, and two wind farms in southern Australia – one in South Australia and one in Victoria. It is one of three major electricity generators to only generate electricity from renewable sources (the others being Trustpower and Mercury Energy), and the only electricity generator in New Zealand to commit itself to only generate electricity from renewable sources.
Meridian originated from the break-up of the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand (ECNZ) in 1999 as a result of the reforms of the New Zealand Electricity Market. Meridian's share of ECNZ was corporatised as a state-owned enterprise with its own board of directors and with two Ministerial shareholders: the Minister of Finance and the Minister of State-Owned Enterprises. In 2013 it was partially privatised by the fifth National Government of New Zealand.
As part of reforms, local electricity companies were split into lines and retail and the retail portion sold off. Meridian initially acquired the retail base of Northpower, Centralines, Scanpower, and Network Waitaki, and later acquired Orion's retail base from NGC.
- 2001 – Meridian purchased five mini hydro-power stations in Australia. These stations linked with dams used primarily for irrigation, and have a total generating capacity of 62 MW.
- September 2001 – Meridian purchased the South Island customer-base of Natural Gas Corporation (NGC), at the time New Zealand's largest electricity retailer. The purchase came towards the end of an exceptionally dry autumn. Low hydro-levels had driven the wholesale market spot prices to very high levels. NGC had purchased the customer-base when Canada's TransAlta quit New Zealand. NGC re-branded itself as OnEnergy to escape the poor reputation of the "TransAlta" brand. OnEnergy found itself with insufficient generation capacity to stand the high winter market prices, and had made the critical mistake of not purchasing any hedge contracts. It attempted to raise its retail prices, but its customers then flocked to other retailers. Finally, after suffering huge losses, NGC had perforce to quit the retail sector, selling its customer-base to two of the Government's companies: Meridian and Genesis Energy. At that point the New Zealand electricity market became further vertically integrated, and many have come to believe that this adversely affected competition in the retail electricity market.
- April 2003 – Meridian extended its operations in Australia with the purchase of Southern Hydro, increasing its Australian generating capacity by 540 MW.
- Southern Hemisphere Winter 2003 – Low hydro inflows and storage levels again resulted in exceptional wholesale market spot prices. As a consequence, the retailers TrustPower and Freshstart abandoned market areas where they had no generation. This strengthened Meridian's dominance of the South Island customer-base.
- 29 March 2004 – Meridian cancelled Project Aqua, a controversial 524 MW power scheme for six dams and a man-made canal on the Lower Waitaki River in North Otago. The scheme allegedly represented the last opportunity for large-scale hydroelectric development of this magnitude in New Zealand. Abandoning the venture cost Meridian NZ$38.7 million. – Meridian stopped the scheme because of uncertainty over rights to use the water, growing costs, and the difficulties and uncertainties with obtaining consents under the Resource Management Act legislation. In July 2004, Meridian announced an independent audit of the abandoned scheme.
- 9 December 2004 – then Prime Minister Helen Clark officially opened the Te Apiti Wind Farm – Meridian's first wind farm.
- 2 June 2005 – Meridian announced a proposal to develop a wind farm west of Wellington, Project West Wind with up to 70 wind turbines with a total capacity of 210 MW, built across 55.8 square km on rural land near Makara at the south-western tip of the North Island. A local pressure group, the Makara Guardians, opposed the scheme. Successful application for resource consent for the project was announced on 21 December 2005. The consent was subsequently appealed and upheld in May 2007.
- 30 November 2005 – Meridian completed the sale of its Australian operation, Southern Hydro, for A$1.42 billion (NZ$1.52 billion) to Australian Gas Light Company. Meridian had steadily expanded and upgraded its assets in Australia since purchase, including commissioning a 91 MW wind-farm. The sale commanded a hefty premium, driven by new demand for renewable energy-generation because of mandatory Australian requirements that electricity retailers sell a proportion of renewable energy.
- 8 June 2007 – The White Hill Wind Farm is officially opened.
- 29 April 2009 – Prime Minister John Key officially turns on the first 15 turbines on the West Wind wind farm.
- 1 June 2011 – The sale of Meridian Energy's Tekapo A and Tekapo B hydroelectric power stations to Genesis Energy took effect. The sale was part of a package of government reforms aimed at improving the electricity sector.
- 30 September 2013 – 49 percent of shares in the company officially offered for sale at between $1.50 and $1.80
Meridian Energy owns and operates seven hydroelectric power stations in the South Island – six on the Waitaki River and at Manapouri. It also owns and operates seven wind farms in New Zealand and Australia, and a single turbine in Brooklyn, Wellington. In total, Meridian has a total installed capacity of 2,754 MW in New Zealand and 201 MW overseas.
|Name||Type||Location||No. turbines||Capacity (MW)||Annual generation
|New Zealand stations|
|Manapouri||Hydroelectric||Lake Manapouri, Fiordland National Park||7||800||4800||1971|
|Mill Creek||Wind||Ohariu Valley, NW of Wellington||26||60||2014|||
|Ohau A||Hydroelectric||Waitaki River||4||264||1140||1979|
|Ohau B||Hydroelectric||Waitaki River||4||212||958||1984|
|Ohau C||Hydroelectric||Waitaki River||4||212||958||1985|
|Te Āpiti||Wind||Ruahine Ranges||55||91||320||2004|
|Te Uku||Wind||near Raglan, Waikato||28||64.4||2011|
|Wellington Wind Turbine||Wind||Brooklyn, Wellington||1||0.23||1||1993|
|West Wind||Wind||Makara, west of Wellington||62||143||600||2009|
|White Hill||Wind||near Mossburn, Southland||29||58||230||2007|
|Mt Millar||Wind||southwest of Whyalla, South Australia||35||70||2004|
|Mt Mercer||Wind||near Ballarat, Victoria||64||131||2014|
Projects being developed by Meridian Energy include the following.
|Project Gumfields||Wind||near Ahipara, Northland|
|Rototuna||Wind||500 MW||Northland west coast|
|Mohaka||Hydro||44 MW||Mohaka River, south of Wairoa|
|Project Central Wind||Wind||130 MW||between Waiouru and Taihape, North Island||consents granted
upheld by Env Court
|Windy Peak||Wind||8 km SE of Martinborough||consultation|
|Mt Munro||Wind||60 MW||near Eketahuna||applied for consents|
|Hurunui||Wind||80 MW||Greta Valley, North Canterbury|
|Pukaki||Hydro||35 MW||on the Pukaki River||consents granted|
|Hunter Downs||Irrigation||Waitaki River, South Canterbury|
|Manapouri amended discharge project||Hydro||Consents Granted|
|Project Aqua||Hydro||520 MW||South Canterbury||Cancelled March 2004|
|North Bank tunnel||Hydro||280 MW||on the Waitaki River||Cancelled January 2013|
|Project Hayes||Wind||630 MW||central Otago||Cancelled January 2012|
|Mokihinui Hydro||Hydro||60 MW||north of Westport||Cancelled May 2012|
In 2006, Greenpeace judged Meridian as the only "green" electricity company in New Zealand. In 2007, Meridian announced that it had received CarboNZero certification from Landcare Research confirming that the generation and retailing of its electricity was carbon neutral.
In June 2008, National's Climate Change spokesman Nick Smith complained to the Commerce Commission that Meridian's claim of carbon neutrality in its advertising was misleading as Smith considered that Meridian had to buy thermally generated power during dry years to supply its customers. A spokesman for Meridian said they stood by the validity of the certification of their carbon-neutral status. In July 2009, the Commerce Commission concluded that Meridian's statements of carbon neutrality were not misleading.
- Damwatch Services Limited, consultancy specialising in dam engineering, safety and surveillance.
- Powershop, an electricity retail broker
- "Meridian Energy Limited (938552) – Companies Office". Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
- "2016 Annual Report". Meridian Energy. 19 August 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
- "Energy in New Zealand". MBIE. August 2015. ISSN 2324-5913.
- "Market share snapshot". Electricity Authority (New Zealand). Retrieved 20 January 2016.
- Meridian to be listed in October. 3 News NZ. 16 September 2013.
- "Decision W031/2007" (PDF). Environment Court. 14 May 2007.
- "White Hill wind farm". Meridian Energy.
- "West Wind Powers Wellington". NZ Wind Energy Association. 29 April 2009.
- "Genesis Energy set to acquire Meridian Energy hydro plants". Power-Gen Worldwide. PennWell Corporation. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
- Govt sure Kiwis will reach Meridian goal. 3 News NZ. 30 September 2013.
- "Mill Creek switches on to Wellington wind" (Press release). Meridian Energy. 14 May 2014.
- "Meridian to buy Australian windfarm". 11 May 2010.
- "Mt Mercer 131MW wind farm switched on in Victoria", in RenewEconomy, 11 September 2014
- "Our Projects". Meridian Energy.
- Katterns, Tanya (15 May 2010). "Martinborough wind farm put on hold". Dominion Post. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
- Crombie, Nathan (26 January 2012). "Consent bid for Eketahuna wind farm". Wairarapa Times-Age.
- "Wind farm planned for North Canterbury". Radio New Zealand. 4 April 2010.
- Bruce, David (16 June 2011). "Pukaki hydro scheme gains resource consent". Otago Daily Times.
- Rutherford, Hamish (24 February 2013). "Meridian's $70m for hydro schemes heads down drain". Fairfax NZ News.
- Edens, John (19 January 2012). "Meridian quits $2 billion wind project". Fairfax NZ News.
- Wood, Alan (22 May 2012). "Meridian pulls plug on Mokihinui project". Fairfax Media (via Stuff.co.nz). Retrieved 22 May 2012.
- Anne Beston (21 September 2006). "Prizes to switch electricity firms". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
- "Meridian has certified carbon neutral electricity" (Press release). Meridian Energy. 26 February 2007. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- "New Zealand to be carbon neutral by 2020" (PDF). Ecos 7. April–May 2007. p. 136. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
- Newstalk ZB (14 June 2008). "Meridian's carbon neutral claim 'false' – MP". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
- "Carbon market problems expected to be solved – minister". Radio New Zealand. 26 July 2009. Retrieved 29 September 2012.