Frequently Asked Questions

From time to time The Lines Company rolls out new projects that may generate questions from our customers. This is the place to find answers to those common questions when changes arise or new initiatives are announced.

What's happening with weekend load controlling?

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TLC is making a change to weekend load control peaks that will mean any weekend peaks created by our Standard User and Low Fixed Charge Plan users (which includes all our residential customers) will not contribute to their 2018 kilowatt load reset if the current pricing approach continues.

This change starts now and will cover weekend load control periods from 1 October 2016 to 30 September 2017.

Remember:

  • this applies only if the current pricing approach continues beyond 1 April 2018
  • TLC may still need to load control during the weekends
  • The capacity calculation is not affected by the weekend change.  As always, we encourage customers to continue to manage their anytime maximum demand.

Which customers does this change to weekend load controlling apply to?

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The weekend load control change applies to TLC’s Standard User and Low Fixed Charge Plan users, which means all our residential customers, including holiday homes.  It does not apply to customers on the Major User Pricing Plan.

What does this change to weekend load controlling mean for me?

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It means that if the current pricing approach continues beyond next April (2018) any peaks you create during weekend load control periods do not count towards your annual kilowatt load reset calculation

What is capacity or anytime maximum demand?  Why is it not affected?

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Capacity and the fixed network charge are not included in the change. The change is only about the variable kW load charge during periods of weekend load control.

Customers still need to manage their Anytime Maximum Demand (which can be used to determine capacity)
 

When will this change to weekend load controlling show up on my bill or invoice?

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Your next invoice won’t show any difference since the change only counts towards 2018’s load reset, and then only if there is no change to the current pricing review.

What about the weekend peaks that I have already created this winter?

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The change applies to any weekend load control peaks created between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017, thus will cover any peaks already created this winter.

Why has TLC decided to change weekend load control now?

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When speaking to the community about the Pricing Review we received constructive feedback on the particular challenges people face when we load control on weekends.   While the review is in its final stages there is an opportunity to make some change immediately.

The change to weekend load control is not a change to the overall pricing system.  It is a one-off change that only applies to weekends from now to 30 September 2017, and covers weekend load control periods from 1 October 2016 to 30 September 2017.

Will TLC still load control on weekends?

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Yes, TLC may still need to load control during the weekends but the peaks created by customers on these plans will not count to their 2018 load reset if the current pricing approach continues.  Any weekend load controlling will be done to manage our network.

What are the weekend load control hours?

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12.01am Saturday (12:00:00) through to 11.59pm Sunday (11:59:59)

Are the new meters smart meters?

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Your new meter is an electronic meter that can be programmed to record usage

When will the new meters have communications?

close The meters that have been installed since September 2013 have communication capability. The communications part of the meter will start up shortly after they have been installed. This may not be possible in every case if there is little/no cell phone coverage.

Are the new meters safe?

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The options for communications is cell phone signal (GPRS). The Ministry of Health say they anticipate no adverse health effects from Smart Meters. They say:

“… typically the exposures to you from a smart meter are only a few per cent of the public limit recommended in New Zealand and prescribed by the international standards. Exposures are low for four main reasons:

  • the low power of the smart meter’s transmitter, which at most operate at only a few watts.
  • they are typically located in low occupancy areas such as on the outside wall of the house.
  • there is a rapid decrease in signal strength with increasing distance from the smart meter.
  • they only transmit occasionally and for short periods. Typically, a smart meter will only be transmitting in total for a few minutes per day.”

 

For further information go to 

Will my new meter still be manually read?

close The communications system allow the meter to be read remotely (where possible). Your retailer may still wish for your meter to be read manually.

What will happen to the data from my new meter?

close The Lines Company is a community owned organisation and takes data privacy very seriously. The storage and use of your meter data will continue to comply strictly with New Zealand’s Privacy legislation guidelines.

How will my kW load charge be calculated on my new meter?

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Your new meter is able to internally calculate kW load. The kW load from the data is calculated as the average of your six highest two hour blocks over the year when there has been a period of load control. For more information on how TLC calculates your kW load please check our Billling section  or call us on 0800 367 546 Option 1

Why are my meters being changed?

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Most meters in the local area that are not already time of use meters are being replaced now. We are working on replacing existing meters with EDMI time-of-use meters. This is because we are moving to time-of-use pricing methodology on 1 October 2018. There are also a few other reasons:
 
  • Local people have asked for meters that record load so that TLC can charge on the basis of specific information about power use at their home and business. The Lines Company agrees this is a fairer approach and is eager to install them throughout the area as soon as practicable.
  • Recording load is not the only reason. Electricity meters need to be re-certified or replaced at regular intervals to ensure they remain accurate and compliant. Many meters in New Zealand were due for review in 2015.
  • In The Lines Company area there are also We have approximately 7,000 relays due to be replaced soon. The new meters has a built-in relay and it is more cost effective to replace the relay with a new the meter, than replace some relays now, only to replace the meter later.

How can I tell on my new meter if you are load controlling?

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The new meters have two small red lights on the front labelled Pulse 1 and Pulse 2. Pulse 2 flashes when we are load controlling. You can keep your load down by switching off unnecessary appliances when Pulse 2 is flashing.

Is there a way to tell if TLC are load controlling other than looking at my meter?

close The Lines Company’s free mobile app can be downloaded from The Lines Company’s website, the Apple App store or the Google Play store. The app includes optional audible notifications for Load Control Alerting for your GXP area, Fault Information, Planned Outages, along with an interactive map. There is also a map control indicator map on our website homepage which is an indicator of load control in your local area. www.thelinescompany.co.nz

How do you know the new meters will work properly?

close The meters are from a supplier that has deployed over 5 million meters worldwide. The meters chosen by TLC were tested in a trial project in 2012 and we are confident these new meters work correctly. However, please let us know immediately if you suspect there is an issue with your meter.

Will the kW load portion of my bill go up?

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For a period of time after your meter is installed you will be charged on the lower of your calculated metered kW load and your ‘profile’ kW load, so the meter itself will not cause your kW load charge to go up. .

Your load is influenced by things like:

  • What type of hot water heating you have and whether it is connected to the relay.
  • When you use the most power.
  • Whether you are using a lot of power during periods of load control.

When I get my new meter will the bill from my retailer go up?

close There have been over one million Advanced or Smart meters installed in New Zealand already. The Electricity Authority, say that power prices should not go up as a result of meter installation. They also note there have been some cases where the existing traditional meter had deteriorated and had been under-recording electricity use. In these cases people have been under-charged for power in the past and will pay more – their true fair share – in the future.

I just got a new meter in the last two years why do I need a new meter?

close Then the main reason your meter is being replaced is not due to compliance but rather so you can receive a meter that is able to be read remotely and can calculate kW load internally.

Who can I talk to about my new meter?

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For more information please email queries@thelines.co.nz

For all enquiries please phone 0800 367 546 – Option 1

How do I read my new meter?

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The screen scrolls over every 6 seconds;

 

They generally show the following, but there are variations depending on the meters program;

 

00000000 Test pattern

1 - 24 24hour -Total kWh consumption ( total of night and day)

2 - dy Day - kWh used from 6:00am to midnight

3 - nt Night - kWh used from midnight to 6:am

4 Ldn Load level now - your total load at the moment

5 LdC Load level current year - your load level for the current years' load charge

6 LdL Load level last year - your load level for the previous years' load charge

dLS Time

dLS Date

sIG Signal strength of the GPRS modem

 

If you need further help to read your meter, please call us on0800 367 546

Does the Network Performance App work on all phones and tablets?

close The App is built to work on Apple products operating on iOS 8 and above and Android products running software version 4.3 and above. It will not work on a smart phone that runs a windows operating system. The App will work on iPads and Samsung tablets.
When using the Network Performance App do I have to put in my Installation Control Point (ICP)?
close Registering an ICP is required to get the App to work. You can find your ICP number on the front page of your TLC invoice or on your energy retailer invoice.
When using the Network Performance App can I add more than one ICP?
close Yes you can add multiple ICPs. You can also add ICPs from different Grid Exit Point (GXP) regions.
What if my ICP does not register on the Network Performance App?
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Please ensure your cell phone has mobile data network coverage and can access the internet. This is a requirement for registration and use of the mobile App. There may be occasions when TLC will need to update new ICPs that are added to the network. If you cannot register your ICP please email queries@thelines.co.nz with your ICP and we will arrange this for you.

How do I get the first information screen on the Network Performance App to disappear?
close Tap or swipe the screen, depending on your device.
Is the Network Performance App connected to the relay in my meter?
close The App is not connected to your meter. It indicates load control by GXP region. There may be times when your area of the map is indicating load control but your relay has not been affected.

What are planned outages?

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Planned outages is the name given to outages the TLC have scheduled so that equipment maintenance can be done safely. If you have registered an ICP in the App and chosen to receive alertsalters, you will get notifications when there are planned outages affecting your ICP.

What are faults?

close Faults are unplanned power outages and can happen at any time. Causes of faults can include vehicles hitting power poles, storms, trees contacting lines or equipment failures.
What should I do if my power is off but no fault is showing for my area on the map?
close Call our 24 hour fault line on 0800 367 328.
What number do I call if I want to speak to someone about my bill or get some load management advice?
close Call our Customer Team on 0800 367 546 and choose ‘option 1’ between 8am – 5pm weekdays.
I can’t get the App to download/work. Who should I ask for help?
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Please call our Customer Team or email us at queries@thelines.co.nz. Describe what the problem is, what type of device you have, and your best contact details. Someone will get back in touch with you between Monday-Friday.

What is time-of-use (TOU)

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'Time-of-use' pricing means prices vary according to when electricity is used. You pay a lower price for using electricity at off-peak times and a higher price for using it in the morning and evening peaks when electricity use is heavy. The hours below are yet to be confirmed. Below are the hours being used in the TOU trial.

 

TOU Pricing Periods

 

Times

 

Peak or Controlled Peak

 

7:00 am to 9:30 am

 

5:30 pm to 8:00 pm

 

Shoulder

 

9:30 am to 5:30 pm

 

8:00 pm to 11:00 pm

 

Off Peak

 

11:00 pm to 7:00 am

When will we move to TOU pricing?

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Last year we began an independent review of the way in which we charge our customers. This review was prompted by customer feedback - stating that customers wanted a simple, fair and transparent pricing system. The review also included consultation with customers, stakeholders and experts. Through this process it was recommended that we consider moving to TOU for the following reasons:
 
  • It is easier to understand
  • Customers can influence their bill in a shorter timeframe which is monthly (not the usual 12 month deferment)
  • TOU gives you flexibility.
  • If you use more electricity one month, it will only impact your next bill - not your bills for the entire year.
Why are you moving to TOU in October?
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There are a number of reasons why October has been chosen. The main reason is that we have always said - make this change once and do it right. Moving to TOU in October gives us the time to get it right for our customers. This means:
 
  • we have time to help our customers understand and get ready for the change
  • our staff will be better equipped to answer your questions

Will a kW Load reset happen in April 2018?

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Yes it does. Our normal annual reset will be communicated to customers at the end of February 2018 and comes into effect 1 April 2018. The reset will only apply for six months - April 2018 to 30 September 2018, before new TOU prices come into effect in October 2018.

 

Will Low Fixed Charge and Standard rates still be available with TOU?

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Yes - the same criteria applies.
Residential Low Fixed Charge is only available to customers in their primary place of residence (home) and use less than 8000 kWh per annum.
Residential Standard is only available to customers in their primary place of residence (home) and is for those who use more than 8000 kWh per annum.

What pricing plan will holiday homes be on under TOU?

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Based on the trial TOU prices holiday homes would be charged on the General pricing plan.

What pricing plan will vacant properties be on under TOU?

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Based on the trial TOU prices vacant properties would be charged on the General pricing plan.