Contact Energy

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Contact Energy Limited
IndustryElectricity generation
Electricity retailing
Natural gas wholesaling
Natural gas retailing
LPG retailing
Founded1996; 27 years ago (1996)
Key people
Robert McDonald, Chair
Mike Fuge, Chief Executive
RevenueIncrease NZ$2.57 billion (2021)[1]
Increase NZ$187 million (2021)[1]
Increase NZ$185 million (2021)[1]
Total assetsIncrease NZ$5.03 billion (2021)[1]
Total equityIncrease NZ$2.93 billion (2021)[1]
Number of employees
945 (June 2021)[1]

Contact Energy Limited is a New Zealand electricity generator, a wholesaler of natural gas, and a retailer of electricity, natural gas, broadband and LPG.

It is the second-largest electricity generator in New Zealand (after Meridian Energy), generating 23% of all electricity in 2014, and has the second-largest market share (22%) of electricity retailers (after Genesis Energy).[2] Contact owns and operates five geothermal power stations near Taupo, natural-gas turbine facilities at Hamilton and at Stratford in Taranaki, two hydroelectric dams on the Clutha River, and a diesel fuelled station near Napier.

Contact originated with the partitioning of the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand in 1996, and publicly listed in 1999.


Contact Energy was incorporated on 8 November 1995 and became a state-owned enterprise on 18 November 1995.[3] It commenced operations on 1 February 1996, acquiring assets from ECNZ with a payment of $1.6 billion.[3] The founding chief executive Paul Anthony was instrumental in establishing the corporation distinct from ECNZ.

In 1999, the company was sold, with 40% purchased by Edison Mission Energy (EME) as cornerstone shareholder for $5 per share. The remaining 60% was sold in a public offering of shares for $3.10 per share.[4] Edison Mission Energy subsequently increased its shareholding to 51%.[citation needed]

As part of the 1999 electricity sector reforms, local electricity companies were split into lines and retail, with most selling the retail part. Contact Energy acquired the retail bases of Top Energy, Counties Power, Eastland Network (Gisborne area), Unison (Hawke's Bay area), Electra, Network Tasman, MainPower, Alpine Energy, Aurora Energy (Dunedin area), the Power Company and Electricity Invercargill.

Edison Mission Energy sold its shareholding to Origin Energy in 2004, following financial difficulties elsewhere in its business.

During the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, Contact Energy raised its prices by up to 12% while doubling its directors' fees. As a result, it lost more than 40,000 customers (10% of the total) in six months and its profit halved. Contact said this was the worst blow to its reputation in the company's history.[5][6]

Origin Energy sold its 53% shareholding to the market in 2015, following financial difficulties elsewhere in its business.[7]

Power stations[edit]

Contact owns and operates (unless otherwise stated) the following power stations:

Name Fuel Type Location Capacity
Annual average
generation (GWh)
Clyde Hydroelectric Conventional Clyde, Otago 464 2,050 1992
Ohaaki Geothermal Flash steam Ohaaki, Waikato 70 300 1989
Poihipi Geothermal Flash steam Wairakei, Waikato 55 350 1996
Roxburgh Hydroelectric Conventional Roxburgh, Otago 320 1,610 1956–1962
Stratford Gas Open-cycle / combined-cycle turbine Stratford, Taranaki 577 3,350 1998, 2010
Te Huka Geothermal Binary cycle Taupo 23 2010
Te Mihi Geothermal Flash steam North of Taupo 159 2014
Te Rapa Gas Open-cycle turbine. Cogeneration Te Rapa, Waikato 44 200 2000
Wairakei Geothermal Flash steam / binary cycle Wairakei, Waikato 161 1,310 1958, 2005
Whirinaki Diesel Open-cycle turbine Whirinaki, Hawke's Bay 155 9 2004

Decommissioned stations[edit]

In 2001, Contact decommissioned the FT4 twinpac open cycle power stations on the Stratford and Whirinaki sites, and sold the generating equipment offshore.[citation needed] In June 2013, the previously decommissioned New Plymouth Power Station was sold to Port Taranaki and Methanex New Zealand.[8] In 2016, Contact sold the Otahuhu Power Station. This was the site of Otahuhu A power station (diesel fueled open cycle gas turbines, commissioned in 1968) and Otahuhu B power station (380MW gas fueled combined cycle plant, commissioned in 2000).[9]


Generation developments[edit]

Development projects
Name Fuel Location Proposed capacity (MW) Status
Tauhara Geothermal Near Taupo 168 Completion in second half 2023

Other developments[edit]

In 2001 and 2002, Contact and Edison Mission Energy developed the Valley Power Peaking Facility near Traralgon in Australia. It was sold in 2005.[10]

In 2006, Contact and Genesis Energy set up the Gasbridge joint venture project to import LNG.[11] Their proposed terminal at Port Taranaki was highly controversial, and the plan was shelved in favour of an offshore terminal plan in mid-2009.[12]

Contact and Origin Energy developed a gas storage facility at the depleted Ahuroa reservoir in Taranaki.[13]

In 2012, Contact decided not to proceed with hydro developments on the Clutha River, at Queensbury, Luggate, Tuapeka and Beaumont.[14] Development of hydro generation on Lake Hawea was due to be completed in 2017.[15]

In June 2013, the Taheke joint venture (Taheke 8C Incorporated and Contact Energy) decided to delay the development of the Taheke Geothermal field due to market conditions.

In August 2013, Contact decided to exit the Hauāurumā raki wind generation development on the Waikato coast. In 2016, Contact allowed its consent for the Waitahora Wind Farm near Dannevirke in the Tararua district to lapse, meaning the farm would not be built.[16]

In 2017 Contact started selling broadband Internet access, via both fibre-optic and copper lines, bundled with other services.[17] In 2020 Contact started using network services company Devoli as provider of the broadband service that Contact resells.[18]

In 2021, Contact decided to proceed with development of the $580m Tauhara geothermal project.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Annual Report 2021". Contact Energy. pp. 15, 83–84. Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  2. ^ "Energy in New Zealand 2015" (PDF). Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. 2015. Archived from the original on 15 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b Annual Report 1996 (PDF). Contact Energy. 11 December 1996. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  4. ^ Newberry, Sue (April 2005). "Electricity Reforms and Contact Energy Ltd". Converge.
  5. ^ Bradley, Grant (15 August 2009). "Director-fee fallout hurts Contact". NZ Herald.
  6. ^ "The Market Teaches Contact A Lesson After Director's Fees Fiasco". NZ Energy & Environment Business Week. 29 April 2009. Archived from the original on 21 May 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
  7. ^ "Origin Energy sale of Contact completed" (PDF) (Press release). Contact Energy. 5 August 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 January 2016. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  8. ^ Rilkoff, Matt (14 June 2013). "Land purchase powers port's big plans". Taranaki Daily News.
  9. ^ "Contact sells Otahuhu power station land" (Press release). Contact Energy. 15 February 2016.
  10. ^ "Contact Energy Announces Sale Of Valley Power Stake" (Press release). 31 August 2005. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  11. ^ "Gasbridge - Preserving New Zealand's future energy options" (PDF). Gasbridge. 4 October 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  12. ^ "Port LNG proposal off table". Taranaki Daily News. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  13. ^ "Contact Energy opens $400 million development in Taranaki" (Press release). Contact Energy. 31 May 2011. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  14. ^ "Contact not proceeding with Clutha Development" (PDF) (Press release). Contact Energy. 1 May 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 February 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  15. ^ Ibbotson, Lucy (6 January 2012). "Contact vies for more time to establish hydro scheme". Otago Daily Times.
  16. ^ McKay, Christine (31 August 2016). "Surprise at windfarm consent expiry". NZ Herald.
  17. ^ Pullar-Strecker, Tom (13 November 2017). "Contact Energy latest to bundle power with broadband". Stuff. Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  18. ^ "Devoli shines in Contact Energy interim reporting". Punakaiki Fund. 3 March 2021. Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  19. ^ "Contact to build Tauhara geothermal power station; will raise $400m in equity" (Press release). Contact Energy. 15 March 2021.

External links[edit]