Strong autumn wholesale prices, and well-timed futures contracts, have enabled TrustPower to record a 1.6 per cent rise in first-half profit despite fewer customers and lower generation.
The Tauranga-based, NZX-listed electricity group said profit after tax in the six months till September 30 rose by $1 million to $69.8m.
The profit was generated from 12,000 fewer customers, and generation down 9 per cent at 1292 gigawatt-hours.
Chief executive Vince Hawksworth said TrustPower had taken advantage of strong autumn spot prices, as well as market expectations that prices would remain high.
"In the first quarter [to June 30] wholesale prices were firm as lake levels dropped, and we were able to sell into those. At the same time futures prices out into the second quarter were firm as well and we sold into those as well," Hawksworth said.
While inflows to South Island hydro lakes were the lowest on record at the start of the year, recent rain means hydro storage across the country is now above average, suppressing wholesale prices amid flat demand.
During the first half, TrustPower began constructing the 270-megawatt Snowtown Stage 2 wind farm in South Australia.
In New Zealand, the company planned to progress resource consent applications to give it future options, but had no plans to give the green light to major projects, Hawksworth said.
Last night TrustPower held a community meeting ahead of submitting a resource consent application for the proposed Waverley wind farm, 6 kilometres southeast of Patea in South Taranaki.
The proposal is for a 48-turbine, 130MW project. However, Hawksworth said New Zealand's electricity needs were covered by existing plant and it could be a decade before new large projects were required.
"One shouldn't read that we're heading towards resource consents as a sign we think it [Waverley] will be built quickly."
The company will maintain its interim dividend of 20 cents, payable on December 14, to shareholders on the register on November 30.
TrustPower shares rose 1 per cent to $8.54 on the news.
TrustPower is majority-owned by infrastructure group Infratil, and the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust owns 33 per cent of its shares.
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