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TLC’s decade-long focus for community assets

2 May 2023

The electricity distributor supplying energy to the greater King Country and Central Plateau recently released their Asset Management Plan (AMP), outlining how they will maintain and develop their network into the future.

The Lines Company (TLC) say they have a key role to play in the region’s efforts to enable energy consumers to switch from fossil fuels to renewable resources, helping to decarbonise the planet as we combat climate change. The effects of global warming and associated extreme weather patterns were keenly felt in parts of the network area during Cyclone Gabrielle.

Decarbonisation and electrification in the transport and industrial sectors are a key area of focus for TLC as they meet new demand requirements, whilst carefully balancing affordability for customers.

TLC chief executive, Mike Fox, says “our $136m investment over the last decade has seen the network improve greatly. But there’s much more we need to do to make sure it’s right for generations to come.

“As we embrace this challenge, we recognise the importance of providing clear signals to our customers, communities, and other stakeholders … of how we are transitioning our network to meet customer requirements over the medium to longer term.”

The challenges TLC is facing are universal across all networks as the volume of electricity needed to operate a modern society is met. TLC are budgeting to spend an extra $50m on the network as more customers phase out fossil fuel use and demand for electricity grows.

“We anticipate the immediate growth in demand on our network will occur initially in the industrial sector due to process heat conversion, followed by the uptake of electric vehicles out to 2050,” says Fox.

“But there are also a number of other considerations such as the phase-out of gas for home heating and hot water.

“We’re also gearing up to meet the future of renewable generation needs. This means making sure our network can manage the flow of electricity in multiple directions – something all electricity networks in New Zealand are having to do.”

TLC’s $203m 10-year investment plan to upgrade assets, also includes the acquisition of technology which will assist with developing an integrated system capable of coordinating network resources, enabling demand-side participation and management of multidirectional flows.

The resilience of the network must improve to match customers’ increasing reliance on electricity for their future energy needs and to withstand increasing stresses caused by more frequent and severe weather events.

Operating a resilient network will require TLC to deliver risk reduction, readiness, response, and recovery strategies. However, it is widely acknowledged for networks like TLC with large pockets of forestry near lines – a review of the government’s tree regulations will be vital in ensuring the network can maintain supply to customers during severe weather events.

The community-owned essential services provider’s plan to manage their assets for the next decade can be downloaded here.

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