The Blog

What's up with the market? 30 November 2018

Kia ora, Flicksters - your friendly Flick team here, bringing you the latest electricity market info straight from our Flick fingertips to your online device. From the happenings of last week, to the upcoming market developments, let’s flick on the switch and see what’s been going on!

Pohokura pipeline back in action next week!

We’ve just received the news that the Pohokura pipeline - the very same pipeline that has been out of operation since early October and at the heart of the recent high prices - will resume full production late next week. That should mean our gas supply isn’t so restricted and we should start to see spot prices returning to normal. Yippee!

Before that happens, the Maui pipeline (also in Taranaki) will be down for maintenance for 48 hours starting from midnight Friday 30 November. It’s possible that we could see higher prices again during this short cross-over period.

The HVDC cable was out for maintenance last week

HVDC Pole 2, Pole 3, and Bipole, which make up the HVDC link and transfer all the hydro-powered energy from the South Island to the North Island, were out last week, from 22-25 November, for scheduled maintenance.

This meant that no power at all (otherwise known as 0MW) could be transferred from South to North, and this caused large price separations between the two islands. The South was flooded with cheap energy (pricing was about $0.03MWh) while the North was short, which meant a more expensive plant was generating (about $500MWh at times). It’s back up and running now - phew!

Huntly’s taking a break

A Genesis Energy gas turbine, Huntly Unit 5, shutdown for planned maintenance in late October and will be out until the 11 December 2018.

While Huntly’s outage is significant in terms of its energy output of 385MW (for context, all of the North Island’s wind generation capacity is 564 MW), it’s weighed against falling demand, Pohokura coming back online and some solid inflows to the hydro lakes (more on that below).

Contact Energy’s 377 MW combined cycle plant in Taranaki is also out for maintenance until December 21.

What will this mean for my next few bills?

It’s possible that the higher spot prices experienced over last weekend might mean higher bills for some of our North Island Freestyle customers next week (remember, Flick has a nine day billing cycle).

With so many variables contributing to final spot prices, it’s hard to say exactly what this weekend’s Maui pipeline outage will mean for Freestyle power bills. But, as they say, forewarned is forearmed - so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out on your app for any spikes and think about what you can turn off if things are looking red.

In general, spot prices are on track to be back to normal over the next week or so!

How are things looking for the next few months?

While the recent stormy weather is a bit of a drag when we’re all hanging out for those summer BBQs, the rainfall has done a good job of improving southern lake levels! Lake Pūkaki is currently 62% full and 127% of average for this time of year, and overall we’re sitting at about 97% of average for this time of year. A decent top up now is a good thing, as it takes the pressure off the grid heading into the drier summer months (here are the most recent figures on hydrological storage from the NZX if you’re so inclined).

Speaking of weather, we keep a close eye on NIWA to see how things are tracking weather-wise around the country, as this can have a big impact on the electricity market and pricing. For the next couple of months (through to January) NIWA’s seasonal climate outlook for NZ is showing a likelihood of El Niño conditions, which typically means wetter and windier conditions on the West Coast, and drier conditions on the east.

NIWA’s information shows that these conditions are likely to bring normal or above normal temperatures to most of NZ, as well as normal to near normal rainfall on the West Coast, and normal to below normal rainfall for the rest of the country. It’s nor’westerlies that matter the most for the hydro-lakes, so while we want our friends on the West Coast to have a lovely summer, normal rainfall there sounds pretty good to us!

Any questions, we’d love to hear them - 0800 4 FLICK or