The Buller Electric Power Board was constituted on December 11th 1947 with a vision to facilitate the electrification of the region. The early development of the distribution network was enabled by the willingness of community minded pioneers, who built rural line extensions despite physical and financial hardships. The provision of a power supply ensured that remote areas had a chance to share in the wealth and convenience offered by electrification.
Significant milestones in the development of the network include:
- The arrival of the cement works at Cape Foulwind in 1958 as a major electricity user
- Supply of electricity to Karamea area in the north with a 70km extension to the network livened on July 6 1962
- Supply of electricity from Charleston to Meybille Bay in the south with the livening of a 24km line in 1987
- Construction of the Robertson St Substation and establishment of the Orowaiti-Tee connection to the national grid (Transpower) in 2004
- The connection of the Kawatiri Energy 4MW hydro generation station to the 33kV network in 2013
- The closure of the cement works at the end of June 2016
Major natural events which had an impact on the network over the past 70 years include:
- The 1968 Inangahua earthquake when power poles toppled
- In 1995 when powerlines and poles came down in several places due to flash flooding in the Nikau area
- On April 17th 2014 severe easterly gales associated with Cyclone Ita caused extensive damage to the network. All consumers lost power for close to 24 hours, and some in remote areas were without power for a week until lines could be repaired
Prior to the electricity reforms of the 1990’s, the Board strongly advocated that everyone was entitled to a supply of electricity, no matter how isolated or remote they might be. The reforms ushered in significant changes to the electricity industry, and the regulatory/commercial environment Buller Electricity operates in.
On May 1st 1993 the Buller Electric Power Board was corporatized, with all assets being vested in Buller Electricity Limited (BEL), which became a limited liability company under the Energy Companies Act 1992. Buller Electricity consumers chose the Trust ownership structure in which shares in BEL are vested in the Buller Electric Power Trust. Trustees elected by consumers appoint directors to the BEL Board with the industry/commercial skills and to manage the Company on behalf of the owners. Further reforms in the late 1990’s resulted in the establishment of a competitive electricity retail market, and BEL was required to sell its electricity retailing business, as it chose to remain the owner of the electricity distribution assets.
Today our aims are to meet the needs of our consumers, operate a safe and reliable network, and enable the development of our community through energy, service and technology.