Orion has a long history in the Canterbury region. In 1903 the Christchurch City Council established a small scale public supply of electricity. In subsequent years other local councils established similar departments.
As electricity use increased and customer numbers grew, many of these departments merged until, in 1989, a joint venture between the Christchurch City Council (MED), the Central Canterbury Electric Power Board, Riccarton Electricity and the Port Hills Energy Authority was formed. This joint venture was known as Southpower.
Reflecting its predecessors, Southpower was both a lines company and a retailer of electricity. Following government reform of the sector, in 1998 Southpower sold its electricity retail activities and retained its network activities.
In December 1998 the company was renamed Orion New Zealand Limited.
Orion New Zealand is a community owned entity with two key shareholders - the Christchurch City Council, through its subsidiary Christchurch City Holdings Ltd (89.3%) and the Selwyn District Council (10.7%).
Today Orion continues to focus on providing a secure and reliable electricity distribution network.