Aurora says 'business as usual' as Dunedin council considers sale

by Kim Bowden - Mar 15, 2024

The chair of the board at Aurora Energy says it is "business as usual" for now, after an announcement by the Dunedin City Council it is considering selling the lines company.

In a behind-closed doors decision on Tuesday, councillors voted 13-1 to consult with the public on the proposed sale of the company, which has assets of close to $800 million.

However, the company also has significant debt - to the tune of more than $500 million - and, in a statement this week, Dunedin mayor Jules Radich says the sale would wipe this debt, with hundreds of millions of dollars left over to invest to create a future revenue stream for the council.

Mr Radich says, “This is a significant proposal for the future of our city, and we want to hear the community’s views before proceeding."

“When our council announced the proposed 17.5 percent rates increase for 2024 to 25, I also said we were looking for alternative revenue streams to put our city on a more sustainable path.

“Council wants our commercial investments to produce higher, more consistent and sustainable returns for the city, and to achieve this we need the right mix of assets. A sale of Aurora and the reinvestment of many hundreds of millions of dollars into a new diversified investment fund, would be an important step in this direction."

The mayor says it is expected interest in purchasing the company would be high, with some reports suggesting a billion-dollar-plus price tag.

In a statement issued in response to the move, Aurora Energy chair Steve Thompson seeks to reassure staff and consumers, saying it is "business as usual" as the company continues with the significant programme of network investment underway.

He says the company will support the council's process and, "irrespective of the outcome of consultation, consumer rights would continue to be protected by the checks and balances imposed on the company by the sector regulators, the Commerce Commission and the Electricity Authority".

Submissions will be considered in early May, with a final decision expected later that month.

Aurora Energy owns and operates the network that delivers power to more than 200,000 homes and businesses in Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes, in addition to Dunedin.

Main image (Supplied/Aurora): New lines installed near Cromwell.


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