Rising bills anger Powershop customers

ELOISE GIBSON
Last updated 12:47 07/09/2012

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Frugal customers of Meridian-owned electricity retailer Powershop are riled at being stung by extra charges for low users, after being told to save electricity.

Powershop has written to customers advising them of extra charges amounting to between $70 and $90 a year for some people, saying it needs to cover the fixed costs of lines and meter charges.

The change affects low users who are on a different pricing regime than standard users, according to consumer advocate Consumer NZ.

Consumer noted the irony of having to explain extra low user charges to people following a high profile, multi-million dollar campaign encouraging New Zealanders to use less electricity by Government-funded energy efficiency cheerleaders EECA .

Meridian trades on being a sustainable choice because it generates electricity from renewable sources.

Despite the appearance of being penalised for using less, low users would still pay less for their electricity than if they were on a standard plan, Consumer said in a blog post.

Powershop took to Facebook to apologise to disgruntled customers, saying they had created a perception that they were penalising or discriminating against low users but that was not the case. It admitted it could have handled the change better.

The company said fixed costs of supplying electricity of about $1 a day were fully recovered from standard users, while low users contributed only 34.5c a day towards their fixed costs.

"Our low user prices remain lower than our standard prices... Unfortunately we can no longer sustain the current level of discount for low users," it said.

Customer complained on Facebook that this was the second increase in a year and came after solid profits by the state-owned company.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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