Grey Power leader quits Kiwi trust
Nelson Grey Power president Neville Male has parted company with the Kiwi Energy Trust, chaired by Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio.
Mr Male said his decision to resign was prompted by no progress being made in getting the trust up and running as an operational entity.
"This was affecting my credibility with Nelson Grey Power members, and there were many asking what progress was being made. I had nothing to report other than negotiations were proceeding. I had been telling them that for six months."
The trust, initially called the Nelson Energy Team, launched in March, calling for an energy revolution to bring about cheaper power prices. It aimed to get 20,000 consumers to register their interest. The other trustees are Solar City chief executive Andy Booth, commercial lawyer Alex Reith and businessman Galen King
It then went national and rebranded as the Kiwi Energy Trust, with a target of more than 100,000 consumers.
The trust appointed Mr Male as a trustee, and said it would start discussions with the New Zealand Grey Power Federation about the possibility of forming a national alliance.
That has not happened, however, and the 64,000-member federation has gone ahead and formed a company, Grey Power Electricity, in partnership with Pulse Energy to offer low-cost electricity to its members. The deal guarantees no power price rises for five years.
Mr Male said his positions on the trust and with Grey Power were not a conflict of interest. Rather, it was seen as a good local initiative.
It had been speculated that the trust and Grey Power Electricity might one day work together, he said. It turned out that they did not meet to talk about this, even though the national Grey Power federation passed a remit at its AGM supporting the trust in the event that nothing came of the federation's initiative.
Mr Male has not signed up to Grey Power Electricity because he says he has a better deal through his current supplier.
He said Grey Power wanted to present a positive view of the new initiative. However, Nelson Grey Power was simply advising its members to go online or call the 800 number to get a comparison with what they were paying now.
"Some are saying there are benefits, some are saying not. We are not acting as a recommending body, as our large membership is dealing with many current suppliers and it is up to each individual to make a choice."
Mr Male said he believed the Kiwi Energy Trust had not been able to progress to offering consumers a discount deal because it had proved to be a lot more difficult than first thought, and this was compounded by having no staff or reasonable budget to work with.
"This has meant that busy people with little time to spare have had to try and make progress with it. It proved in the end that it needed a lot more than that to make it happen."
With the benefit of hindsight, he believed a lot more needed to be done before the trust went public. "Once you go public with something like this, people expect results."
Mr Miccio said the trust was working closely with its key sponsor on implementing a strategic plan for having enough numbers across the country to ensure the best possible deal was negotiated with a power company for next winter.
It did not plan to appoint another trustee at this stage, he said.
He did not respond to a question about why the Kiwi Energy Trust had not been registered.
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