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Powershop customers up 32%, but Australian renewables market still shaky: Meridian

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New Zealand renewables giant Meridian Energy has reported a “solid” half-year result, boosted by strong growth in its Australian online electricity retailer Powershop, which grew its customer base by almost one-third.

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The Wellington-based company announced on Wednesday an 11 per cent fall in net profit after tax of $104 million for the six months to December 31, a dip partly attributed to increased operating costs – almost half of which, it said, was investment supporting Powershop’s expansion.

The ASX-listed Meridian, which launched Powershop in Victoria in 2014, said the retailer had achieved “good traction” in both Victoria and NSW, growing its customer base by an impressive 32 per cent over the half-year, despite strong sector competition.

Growing Powershop has been a focus for Meridian in Australia, since it identified that ongoing RET uncertainty had “paralysed” investment in large-scale renewable generation.

The company – whose Australian wind energy projects include the 131MW Mt Mercer wind farm near Ballarat and the 70MW Mt Millar wind farm in South Australia – said this time last year that the RET was “mired in politics” and that it was “unclear when a stable, bipartisan energy policy” that supported renewables would return.

In its interim report on Wednesday, Meridian said Australian LGC prices (see table below) had responded to last June’s RET target decision, as well as the “political changes” in September.

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But it also noted – as has AGL Energy – that these changes have “not yet translated” into investment certainty for large-scale renewables, with little new investment announced.

Elsewhere on the Australian market, the report also noted rising base wholesale energy prices with thermal retirement and new LNG gas consumption kicking in.  

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