Consumer-centric technology a key factor in enabling New Zealand’s new energy future

Industry Perspectives

Vector is backing a more holistic approach to energy resilience amid mounting evidence that new technology will play an ever-increasing role in meeting customers’ evolving energy needs.
The country’s largest energy distribution company has today released a paper ‘Working Together on Resilience’. This paper follows on from Vector’s Electric Vehicle network integration paper published in March 2018. 

The paper outlines how climate-change models are predicting a higher instance of extreme weather events, and how this will impact energy resilience across New Zealand’s energy supply chain – all the way from generation to transmission, to distribution, right through to the home or business. 

Vector is promoting a more informed discussion on the different ways to deliver resilience, and how new technology can offer innovative solutions to solve some traditional investment choices. This will help consumers better understand the trade-offs between costs and quality and the role that consumers, Government and the industry can collectively play.

The paper explores how there are now more and more technology choices that will meet the growing needs of consumers. These include ‘shared resilience’ solutions that give consumers more control, security and choice, but are not necessarily grounded in traditional or centralised network investments. Examples of shared resiliency solutions include solar and battery installations, micro-grids and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, with network infrastructure and systems acting as a platform for consumer choice. 

Vector Group CEO Simon Mackenzie has long understood that as our lives rapidly electrify, and as the country moves to meet its zero carbon ambitions and decarbonise industries like transport, consumers will also increasingly expect an ‘always on’ state of access to power. 

“The challenge in a world where consumer expectations are always rising, and climate change impacts are increasingly being felt, is to ensure infrastructure providers keep making the right investment choices that meet future expectations for consumers and that help embrace and realise the potential benefits of new energy technologies. 

“When it comes to considering the matter of resilience, it’s important for consumers and stakeholders to understand how the costs of more customer-centric or distributed resilience solutions might compare with the on-going monthly charges that could result from significant network investment.

“For example, if Vector was to underground lines on the remaining 45 per cent of Auckland streets with overhead powerlines, it would cost Aucklanders approximately $5 billion dollars. This could potentially quadruple electricity bills for decades, leaving future generations to foot the bill and yet still exposing consumers to the risk of outages that can occur across the energy supply chain.

“We think it’s important to have an open and informed conversation about how to best shape and enable our energy future so it can deliver on the rising expectations of consumers, businesses and communities at what is considered by all as a fair and sustainable price. 

“Globally there is a growing awareness and sharper focus on emerging technology to unlock the opportunities of shared resilience that lie ahead. We believe our regulatory frameworks have an important role to play in providing the industry with the confidence to embrace and enable new technology options for customers, and to keep consumers informed on the opportunities and tradeoffs for the new energy future. 
“Our paper calls for more discussion on how industry, government and consumers can work together to deliver the best possible outcomes for New Zealand,” he said. 

To read a copy of ‘Working Together on Resilience’, click here
To read Simon Mackenzie’s NZ Herald op-ed on shared resiliency, click here
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