The History of
Network Tasman

Network Tasman

The History of Network Tasman

Network Tasman was created as a result of the 1998 government restructuring of the electricity industry. This prevented power companies from owning both an electricity supply business and an electricity distribution business.

In this region, the former Tasman Energy Limited chose to retain ownership of the distribution business, which was renamed Network Tasman.
The first electricity supplier in the region was Kohatu farmer Robert Ellis. Mr Ellis introduced electric power into his home in 1908.

Three years later, he secured the regions first license to supply electricity commercially, using the waterwheel of a flourmill. His company, the Waimea Electric Supply and Manufacturing Co., continued as an independent supplier of the region until 1933.

Other electricity generation was soon set up, mostly under the wing of local authorities.

The Motueka Borough Councils suction gas plant started producing electric power in 1921 and the next year the Murchison County Council's Six-Mile Hydroelectric Scheme was commissioned.

This was shortly followed by the Nelson City Council's steam powerhouse which became operational in 1923.

The electricity supply, however, was soon under great pressure. Even though domestic use of electricity was generally limited to evening lighting only, the piecemeal generation network could not meet growing consumer demand.
In 1929, the Waimea Electric Power Board was formed and almost immediately absorbed the Brightwater and Motueka plants, adding a hydroelectric scheme in the Brooklyn Valley.

During this time, the Golden Bay Electric Power Board was formed in 1925 and commissioned the Pupu Hydroelectric Scheme in 1929.

Although there was a widely-held belief that the region needed a major hydro scheme, this was made impossible by the Great Depression and the outbreak of World War 1.

The Nelson region had to continue with small schemes and supplementary supplies until the Cobb Scheme was commissioned in 1944.

The Cobb Scheme was started by the Hume Company in 1935 and was completed by the government led by Labour Prime Minister Peter Fraser.

Despite that the post-war period was a time of expanding distribution and technological innovation and improvements, meeting the power demand of consumers remained a problem.
In 1951, the Murchison County Council commissioned a hydro plant on the Maruia Falls, but major relief came only with the 1958 connection to the national grid.

During this time, the focus remained on building and improving the regions network, a process that was aided by amalgamation of the remaining suppliers.

A decade after in 1963, the Waimea Electric Power Board merged with Murchison's electrical undertaking and then in 1976, the Waimea and Golden Bay electric power boards amalgamated forming a new body - the Tasman Electric Power Board.

In 1988, this board changed their name to Tasman Energy, the foundation of Network Tasman. In 1990, the Government appointed experienced directors to replace the elected boards of regional power authorities and electricity departments.

At the time, the five directors that were appointed to Tasman Energy faced a mammoth task; the application of commercial principles to a local authority servicing a area of more than 12,000km2.
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One of the fundamental issues that the directors of Tasman Energy had to face was that of ownership.

In the 1990s, the Government was proposing legislation that would require all power authorities to be run as separate companies (legislation that would become known as the Energy Companies Act 1992).
The Tasman Energy directors considered whether they should form a publicly-listed company owned by private interests, form a company with shares vested in the local authority, or form a company with ownership vested with electricity consumers.

Tasman Energy took the view that the community should not lose control of what was, in essence, a natural monopoly.

In 1992, the directors recommended that establishment of a customer trust, which would hold all the new company shares on behalf of consumers.

The public consultation that followed eventually gave the thumbs up to this proposal and the Tasman Electric Power Trust was established.

In 1996, the trust ownership structure was reviewed as required by the company's establishment document and trust deed, and continued with widespread support.
Tasman Energy Limited was renamed Network Tasman Limited in 1998.
The trust was renamed the Network Tasman Trust to reflect the new company name.

In 2001, another ownership review confirmed continued support of the trust structure.

Network Tasman to this day focuses on delivering a reliable and safe electric network for consumers at the lowest possible cost.

Network Tasman's network charges are amongst the lowest in the country and continually makes discount payments to consumers and a dividend to the shareholding Trust (the Trust that holds shares on behalf of Network Tasman's consumers).

Electricity History Timeline

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