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Price changes a mixed bag

23 February 2024

Annual price changes from The Lines Company (TLC) offer good and bad news for customers.

All electricity distribution companies must advise price changes by March 1 each year, with how much revenue they can earn determined by the Commerce Commission.

Last year TLC was required to reduce its revenue, meaning lines charges for customers stayed largely the same. But TLC chief executive Mike Fox said inflation has now caught up.

“Over the last two years, we’ve barely been able to keep up with cost increases and we’re not alone in that. We’re now in a position where we have to pass some of those costs on so we can continue to provide a safe and reliable service across the network, ” he said.

“TLC charges make up only around a third of power bills – more than half of the bill comes from retailers. Still, in the coming year, once you shake everything out, we expect average households will see an increase in TLC costs of about 9 per cent. We want to be transparent about that.”

TLC was doing what it could to smooth the impact, particularly on vulnerable customers. From April the company will reduce off peak (11pm – 7am) delivery prices by 56 per cent.

“Our network is not used as heavily off-peak so we’ve made it even cheaper during that time. We’re encouraging people to use appliances – especially ones you can put on a timer – overnight. Customers should also talk directly to their retailers about any off-peak deals they offer.”

It was worth checking out the independent website, www.powerswitch.org.nz, he said, noting customers across the TLC network had low “switch rates” even though some power retailers were cheaper than others.

There would also be a bigger discount in the coming year to beneficiaries of TLC’s shareholder, the Waitomo Energy Services Customer Trust (WESCT).

“We’re budgeting $5.2 million for a discount this year – up from $4.3 million in 2023/24. That’s a 21 per cent increase so is good news for customers in the northern part of our network. “
In the southern area, there would be a huge focus on improving and maintaining electrical infrastructure to improve reliability and security of the power supply. That includes a $5.2 million investment in Tūrangi to provide a back-up power supply and replace ageing transformers.

Price changes will come into effect from April 1 this year. During April and May, TLC’s customer team will be on the road across the network, showing people how to save on energy costs.

For more information contact