Million dollar-plus salaries for the chief executives of power suppliers are soaring while consumers are being hit by rising prices.
Figures released to the Sunday Star-Times confirm that the bosses of four of our five power providers - Contact, Mighty River Power, Genesis and Transpower - are paid more than $1 million a year.
Figures for Meridian Energy were not available but, as early as the 2008-09 financial year, the company was paying its CEO a $1.03m salary.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman released the figures on Friday, just 24 hours after revealing a joint Green-Labour proposal to pull the plug on ever-rising power bills.
"I think most New Zealanders would be shocked that the reason their power bills are going so high is not just the super profits to the companies, but also the super salaries that are going to their senior management," Norman told the Sunday Star-Times.
"Every time you pay your power bill, not only are you paying the super profit, but you also have to pay the super salaries for the senior management team."
Mighty River Power tops the salary list, paying chief executive Doug Heffernan $1.49m a year.
"It is pretty hard to justify that sort of salary," Norman said. "You think about doctors . . . a lot of them are reasonably well paid, but not at this level, and they are the people that save your life."
Norman was also alarmed at soaring payments for board members. The biggest increase over a three-year period was at Contact, which paid out a total $1.14m in the 2011-12 financial year, as opposed to $852,651 in the 2008-09 financial year.
Transpower was the only company which had seen a drop in its board payments, down from $1.12m in 2008-09 to $1.02 in the 2011-12 financial year.
"This is part of the whole super profit model that the National Party put in place . . . it is super salaries for boards as well," Norman said.
"Households are sick of paying through the nose so that CEOs and board members can get super salaries. It is time to stop it, we can stop it, and we will stop it."
On Thursday, the Greens and Labour proposed forming an entity called NZ Power which would see the future government dictate power prices and profit margins.
Norman said the plan would save the average household about $300 a year on energy costs.
Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce on Friday labelled the proposal as "Soviet-style 1970s policies".
Norman said Joyce was being "pretty hysterical", stating: "Basically what Joyce is doing is protecting the super profits of the giant power companies and letting them continue to screw the consumers."
ELECTRIC SHOCK: WHAT POWER COMPANIES PAY
Contact Energy CEO Pay: $1,303,250. Total board payments: $1,141,00. Staff on $100,000-plus salaries: 395.
Mighty River Power CEO Pay: $1,492,601. Total board payments: $657,066. Staff on $100,000-plus salaries: 262.
Genesis CEO Pay: $1,200,000-$1,210,000. Total board payments: $534,242. Staff on $100,000-plus salaries: 233.
Transpower CEO Pay: $1,050,000-$1,059,000. Total board payments: $1,026,000. Staff on $100,000-plus salaries: 42.4
Meridian Energy CEO Pay: Info not available. Total board payments: $436,916. Staff on $100,000-plus salaries: n/a.
- Sunday Star Times