Auckland power savings not passed on

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 16:56 25/07/2013

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Power retailers have been accused of rorting Auckland households by failing to pass on savings after regulators forced down lines charges.

Last year the Commerce Commission ordered infrastructure company Vector to cut distribution prices by 9 per cent, the equivalent of a $60 annual saving per year for an average household.

The rules came into force in April, but as of May only two out of 11 Auckland retailers had dropped their prices.

The Auckland Energy Consumer Trust, which owns most of Vector, said it was a shame that consumers weren't benefiting more from the drop in lines charges.

Chairman William Cairns said many New Zealand households were under financial pressure.

"It's extremely disappointing that unregulated retailers - for the most part - are taking gains meant for consumers."

Cairns said it was a real concern that a recent survey showed about a third of New Zealanders could not afford to heat their homes adequately in winter.

"A little respite on power bills, we feel, would be welcomed by consumers."

Energy Trusts of New Zealand, the umbrella organisation for 21 energy trusts, has also lent its support to its Auckland member's cause.

Chairwoman Karen Sherry said all the energy trusts should take note of what was happening.

"We support the stand that the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust is taking, and call for a better deal for Auckland's electricity consumers."

Labour's finance spokesman David Parker jumped on the news as "further proof that New Zealand's electricity market is broken".

Labour's NZ Power policy would cut power bills by hundreds of dollars a year and restrict future price increases, he said.

Power prices have risen 3.4 per cent in the year to June, well above the record low overall inflation rate of 0.7 per cent.

Consumers can shop around to get the best prices through the Electricity Authority's What's My Number? website.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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