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Meridian signs deals with Tilt, Total Eren, adding Australian hydro, wind, solar supply

Thursday 1st February 2018

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Meridian Energy has inked three new supply contracts in Australia giving the owner of the Powershop energy retailer more renewables supply from wind farms and a solar farm.

Meridian Energy Australia today confirmed the A$168 million purchase of three hydro power stations from Trustpower it announced last month, and said it has also signed three power purchase agreements with renewable projects in Victoria and New South Wales.

Powershop Australia plays on its renewables portfolio as the "only electricity retailer to be certified 100 percent carbon neutral by the Australian government" and a favourable Greenpeace rating. The supply agreements are for electricity scheduled to come online in the next two years and includes the 37-turbine, 135 megawatt generation capacity Crudine Ridge Wind Farm owned by CWP Renewables which is scheduled to be completed in 2019.

It also has agreed to buy power from French independent power producer Total Eren's 200 MW stage 1 of its Kiamal solar farm and from Tilt Renewable's 54 MW Salt Creek wind farm in Victoria which is to be completed this year. French oil company Total invested in Eren last year.

Meridian has been a buyer in a market where Trustpower is now more at arm's length since the spin-off of its Australian renewables business into Tilt, and has a conditional deal with Trustpower to buy its GSP Energy unit with three hydro stations in New South Wales. Trustpower acquired what was then known as Green State Power from the NSW state government in 2014 for A$72.2 million, gaining three hydro stations and an interest in two wind farms.

Demand for renewables is growing in Australia on the back of the federal government's Renewable Energy Target, which aims to encourage enough investment in renewable power stations to achieve 33,000 gigawatt hours of additional renewable electricity generation by 2020, while a 'small-scale' scheme alongside gives households the incentive to install solar panels and solar hot water systems.

Steve Symons, chief financial officer of Tilt, declined to give financial details of its agreement but said it was "considered to be of value to the business."

"It's attractive to be contracting as much of the portfolio as possible," he said. "Wind is definitely part of the mix," in terms of supply in Australia. "The Renewable Energy Target is in place and we're operating to help achieve that and looking for further support and clarity from the government about meeting the Kyoto obligations" on greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

Trustpower spun out its wind and solar generation facilities into separately listed Tilt in October 2016 and since then has focused its strategy on the New Zealand business.

Meridian already has wind-farms in Australia and more than 100,000 customers on its Powershop branded retail business but has been dealing with an uncertain policy environment. The company flagged the power purchase agreements last year.

Meridian shares fell 0.7 percent to $2.80 on the NZX and Tilt fell 1 percent to $1.99. Trustpower fell 0.2 percent to $5.39.


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