State-owned electricity generator and retailer Mighty River Power says it experienced 12 percent growth in sales in the three months to December 31 as residential and commercial consumers used more energy and the company gained new customers.
The majority of the gain came from a 22 percent increase in volumes to business customers, compared to the December 2011 quarter, potentially indicating an uptick in economic activity in Auckland, where MRP is strongest and its Mercury Energy brand is based.
MRP also showed customer growth in the North and South Islands, with 391,000 customers in the north, compared with 383,000 a year earlier, and 43,000 southern customers, up from 37,000 in December 2011.
The company's combination of hydro-electric dams on the Waikato River and an increased portfolio of geothermal generation plant saw MRP increase its total electricity production 6 percent in the quarter, compared with the same period a year earlier.
Average wholesale electricity market prices fell over the quarter, thanks to plentiful rainfall in hydro catchments and improved transmission on the national grid in the upper North Island after upgrades.
However, MRP's "flexible generation portfolio allowed the company to outperform the market, achieving an average generation price of $66.25 per Megawatt hour", chief executive Doug Heffernan says in a statement.
MRP is the first candidate for partial privatisation, with the government proposing to sell up to 49 percent of the company in a float before the end of June, assuming challenges to its decisions by the Maori Council are unsuccessful in a Supreme Court challenge to be heard later this week.