Lincoln Flexibility Trial

An opportunity to work with Orion to help shape the future electricity network


Orion is looking to build a new zone substation to the east of Lincoln township due to ongoing growth in the area. We wish to see if there is an opportunity to utilise flexibility solutions to delay this major multi-million-dollar build, saving our customers money, at no sacrifice to the security of power supply to the area.

For example, batteries in homes and businesses, could be used to lower loads at peak times, namely 6am to 9am and 5.30pm to 9pm from May to October, or businesses can defer some of their power use away from these times. Other opportunities or technologies may also be available.

We’re interested in partnering with potential suppliers of flexibility solutions to assist in managing peak demand in the Lincoln area. Flexibility suppliers would be compensated for these actions, at an overall lower cost to our customers given the resulting deferral in building the new zone sub-station.

Orion is also interested in hearing from parties that can potentially offer flexibility support in other parts of the Orion network.

Orion’s objective is to provide energy security at a lower cost than new network infrastructure and implement a solution that will also support the transition to a lower carbon energy supply.

The process to get involved

If you’re interested in getting involved, our Expressions of Interest (EOI) document contains the details of the opportunity and our requirements. It can be downloaded here.

There is a separate editable Expressions of Interest Response Form which can be downloaded here. Interested parties must complete this form and return it to Orion by no later than 4pm on Monday 12th December 2022.

Shortlisted respondents to the EOI process will be invited to submit a more detailed proposal in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) process that we intend to run in February/March 2023.

Project questions and answers

We expect to be asked various questions from potential flexibility suppliers during the EOI process. Those questions and answers to them will be displayed here. It is the responsibility of potential flexibility providers to consider these questions and answers in any EOI response they make.

A list of explanatory project Questions and Answers has been compiled as follows. 

1. Why is Orion looking to use flexibility solutions?

The use of flexibility, also known as non-network support, can be a cost-effective means of deferring or avoiding the cost of new investment in traditional network assets, and a way of helping address power quality issues. The use of flexibility solutions can also play a part in helping NZ to meet its decarbonisation goals, and enabling the use of new technologies to support customer choices and innovation in the energy sector.

2. How will flexibility support be used by Orion in the Lincoln area?

Flexibility support in the Lincoln trial will be used to reduce peak electricity demand in the area in 2024 and 2025 and could potentially be used to lessen the impact of a network event in the area.

3. What options are there for flexibility support?

Orion is relatively open to different options for flexibility support, provided that they can be delivered at the time, magnitude and duration required and be delivered in a reliable, sustainable manner. Options can include, but are not limited to:

  • Renewables-based electricity generation
  • Battery storage systems, including electric vehicles
  • Aggregated photovoltaic (PV)/battery storage systems
  • Aggregated loads such as heating, cooling or irrigation

4. What are the key characteristics Orion is looking for?

Proposed solutions must be reliable and available when required over the contract period and at the scale required.

To be effective, proposed flexibility solutions need to have:

  • Capacity to meet the level of demand required
  • Availability at the times and locations needed
  • Reliability to deliver the supply when required
  • Sustainability to be able to continue to be available, including recharging where relevant from one period of requirement to the next.
  • Lower price than network build solutions

Additionally, flexibility solutions from a single provider or multiple providers should not cause instability in the network.

5. Is anything excluded from this flexibility support programme? 

In accordance with our sustainability commitment, including minimisation of carbon emissions, we are not seeking a fossil fuel-based solution. In addition, existing load management activities at existing major customer, as defined by Orion’s pricing policy, sites may be excluded.

6. Where is the flexibility solution required?

The flexibility solution is required in the Lincoln area as defined in the shaded area of the map below, which is included in Appendix 1 of the Expressions of Interest document.



7. Will flexibility solutions that are available in other locations be considered?

While this EOI is focused on the Lincoln area, we are interested to learn whether any parties can potentially offer flexibility support in other locations in the Orion region. Question 9 in the EOI Response Form provides the opportunity for flexibility suppliers to identify any flexibility resource that they may potentially be able to offer in other parts of the Orion network. This can be independent of any resource that may be available to offer in Lincoln, i.e. it is open to those able to offer a solution in Lincoln, or not.

8. What quantity of flexibility is required in the Lincoln area and when?

The required level of flexibility support has been calculated to be 500kW from 1 May to 31 October 2025. To ensure systems are working effectively by 2025, we are seeking 250kW of support to be available for testing in 2024, starting 1 May 2024 through to 31 Oct 2024.

Orion is willing to consider solutions that can deliver the entire level of flexibility support required, or a subset of it, subject to a minimum contracted level of support of 100kW per flexibility supplier.

This flexibility support will need to be reliably available for a minimum of 4 consecutive ½ hour periods, normally but not exclusively within the periods of 6am to 9am and 5.30pm to 9pm, and reliably available for up to 40 ½ hour periods per annum in each of May to October 2024 and May to October 2025. If flexibility support providers have solutions that can operate for longer than 4 consecutive ½ hour periods, and still deliver a minimum contracted level of support of 100kW, they should advise us of this.

9. What is the response time required to deliver the agreed level of flexibility support?

Ideally, the flexibility solution should be available without advance notice and in real time. However, for this trial we will consider other lead times for notice for operation. Respondents to the EOI should specify what lead time for notice of operation is required, however Orion’s preference is for shorter periods over longer periods.

10. Does the technology need to be owned by a respondent?

No. Orion is open to the solution being owned wholly by the respondent to the EOI or by other parties, provided suitable contracts for use are in place. If the proposed flexibility solution is a distributed resource (e.g. home storage batteries spread over many homes) then the respondent must provide some aggregation capability to ensure efficient coordination between all distributed resources.

11. What are the communications interface requirements?

Orion must have confidence that any flexibility support can be controlled appropriately and reliably.

Successful flexible providers will need to provide and operate a suitable communications interface, which must interface with Orion’s systems so that the flexibility can be directly or indirectly be managed from Orion’s operations centre – ideally via Orion’s Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS). The interface will need to provide Orion with visibility into the status of the flexibility resources and their available capacity and/or storage. It must be able to receive event notifications, event instructions or urgent instructions. Other interfaces and data may be required dependent on the type of flexibility provided. Successful flexibility providers will be required to work with Orion to establish operational requirements of the interface(s).

The interface should be an interface that can be, or is, widely used in the industry and is not bespoke. Orion is open to ways in which an event instruction, and information on flexibility status, is communicated between parties and is willing to consider all international smart grid standards and communication protocols (such as the IEC standards), including ripple, if they comply with Orion’s connection and protection standards.

12. Do respondents to the EOI need to submit firm pricing at the EOI stage?

No. Orion is only seeking indicative, non-binding pricing at this stage and to gain feedback on the proposed basis of pricing. Pricing could be based on a fixed monthly or annual fee (an availability payment) and/or a charge per kW available and kWh delivered (a usage payment).

Should respondents to the EOI be selected to proceed to the next stage, which is a Request for Proposals in early 2023, at that time firm pricing will need to be submitted.

13. What length of contract is proposed?

The initial contract proposed will cover 2024 and 2025. Depending on the success of the trial and the load growth that has occurred in the Lincoln area in the intervening years, we may seek to extend the service offered into 2026 and beyond. However, this extension into 2026 will not be part of any final contract signed with any flexibility supplier but is merely an indication of potential at this stage.

14. What happens if the flexibility solution does not work as expected?

The contract to be signed with any flexibility supplier will include a penalty for non-delivery which will reflect any costs incurred by Orion and Orion’s customers. More details of this penalty clause will be available at the RFP stage.

15. Will Orion definitely proceed with this project?

Orion would ideally like to see this project come to fruition. However, it will not proceed if, based solely on Orion’s judgement, no technically feasible solutions are offered or if the indicative prices offered are not considered to be worthwhile.

Get involved!

Download the EOI document here for more information and submit your response by 4pm on Monday 12th December 2022.

If you have any questions about getting involved in this project, or the nature of the requirements, please contact by email Project Lead: Stephen Godfrey

Respondents are to complete the EOI Response Form available here.

EOI responses must be submitted by email to the Project Lead: Stephen Godfrey

Registrations sent by post or fax, or hard copy delivered to our office, will not be accepted.