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Fehi, Gita fill Meridian's cup

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/03/2018 Rebecca Howard

Meridian's Aviemore hydro station in North Otago, New Zealand © Getty Images Meridian's Aviemore hydro station in North Otago, New Zealand Meridian Energy's hydro storage increased last month as tropical storms brought heavy rainfalls, ending a protracted dry spell for the renewable electricity generator and retailer.

Meridian said South Island storage stood at 100 per cent of average storage on March 11 while North Island storage stood at 158 per cent. National hydro storage increased from 92 per cent to 107 per cent of historical average in the month to March 11.

The company's earnings fell in the final six months of 2017, largely reflecting reduced hydro generation caused by an extended period of dry weather that only broke when large rain dumps arrived in the southern lakes during ex-cyclone Fehi, which hit New Zealand in late January and early February.

In late January, Fehi slammed most of the country and led authorities to declare a state of emergency and ask people to avoid travelling by road in some parts of the South Island. Later that month, ex-cyclone Gita brought more rain, causing heavy flooding in some areas.

Meridian said national electricity demand in February was 2.4 per cent lower than the same month a year earlier, with all the reduction being seen in the South Island.

Retail sales volumes dropped 13 per cent from February 2017, with residential and small to mid-sized business sales volumes down 16 per cent on lower irrigation-driven agriculture use. Corporate sales fell 6.4 per cent, having got a boost a year earlier when the power company signed a large short-term customer.

So far this financial year, which ends June 30, retail sales volumes are 7.1 per cent higher than the same period last year.

Meridian's New Zealand generation in February was 16 per cent lower than the same month in 2017, reflecting lower hydro generation and higher wind generation.

The stock recently traded at $2.855 and has fallen 2.4 per cent so far this year.

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