Load growth capacity options for Network Waitaki’s distribution network


Network Waitaki (NWL) is a consumer trust-owned electricity distribution business (EDB) operating a predominantly overhead rural network supplying the North Otago, Hakataramea, and Ahuriri regions, including the major rural support town of Oamaru and several smaller townships. The NWL network services approximately 13,000 consumer connections across a network of 1,800 km of power lines taking its supply from four GXPs at Oamaru, Waitaki, Twizel and Blackpoint.


Customer load growth resulting from irrigation demand and process heat decarbonization was forecast to exceed the capacity available at the Transpower Oamaru Grid Exit Point by the middle of this decade.

NWL had identified options to increase capacity for their customers. PSC was engaged to review these options, identify any other viable alternatives, and undertake technical and nontechnical investigations to recommend a preferred economic solution.

Project Solution

PSC’s Erik Westergaard, an executive principal consultant with many years of experience undertaking high-level strategic reviews in his career as a grid investment and regulatory specialist, led PSC’s consultation.

Along with a thorough understanding of the electricity transmission industry processes, rules, and regulations, this required investigating and developing a deeper understanding of both the current and possible future states of the NWL network.

While the initial scope of work was well defined, the preliminary analysis highlighted the need for flexibility, as it rapidly became clear that several considered options were not viable. An initial review of both technical and non-technical aspects of the options quickly identified that technical aspects were not primary drivers in this high-level investment analysis.

The reference case became the development of additional GXP capacity (or new GXP) to supply Oamaru. Through deeper economic consideration, along with some experience and understanding of technical practicalities, various options were eliminated, and it became evident that the best long-term solution would be the establishment of a new GXP to supply Oamaru.

PSC Advantage

There is a long journey ahead to implementation, but these first steps are critical in developing an economically justifiable and practicable solution. This highlights where PSC’s industry knowledge and experience can assist at a project’s inception and at a strategic level to help propel complex projects forward. PSC’s industry experience and understanding of investment and regulatory issues have been paramount in this investigation.

PSC welcomed the opportunity to work with NWL. PSC and NWL project team members’ open and professional approach encouraged an excellent working relationship. This has resulted in a professional report that has assisted the NWL Board and executives in narrowing their focus onto a well-defined solution that enables NWL to develop a strategy to move forward.



Transmission and Distribution


New Zealand

“Erik and Barry were great to deal with on this piece of work where the scope was not entirely clear at commencement. This required flexibility and trust from both parties, and I think this was navigated really well. Erik’s deep industry knowledge was invaluable, and the final report was conclusive and well received by our Board. Thanks, guys!”

Craig Conlan

Planning Manager, Network Waitaki