Mercury Energy customers face price rise

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 08:11 19/02/2013

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Mercury Energy will increase prices for its customers in the Christchurch region by an average of 7.7 per cent adding $14 to an average monthly bill.

The retail arm of state-owned power company Mighty River Power said most of the energy charge increase would be delayed until after winter.

Mercury, one of the country's largest energy retailers, said customers in the Christchurch region paid on average $182 a month, but this would increase to $196 a month under the new regime.

From April 1 Mercury said it would pass through the Commerce Commission regulated transmission and distribution charges from the local lines company Orion of 4.5 per cent and would increase its own energy price charge by 3.5 per cent. These two components combine to an average bill increase of 3.8 per cent.

A further 6.0 per cent increase in the "energy charge" would occur on November 1, delayed until after the higher winter electricity usage has occurred. This increase will equate to an average total bill increase of 3.9 per cent at this time, bringing the average total increase from current rates to 7.7 per cent.

After both these changes have taken place, the average net effect on residential customers' monthly bills will be an increase of $14 a month, the energy retailer said.

Distribution and transmission charges in Christchurch together account for about 35 per cent of a customer's bill.

The remaining 65 per cent of a customer's bill is the "energy charge" which Mercury Energy determines and which pays for the electricity, metering, and all other costs associated with supplying electricity to a customer.

Mercury Energy general manager James Munro said since the company had launched in the Christchurch market in early 2009 it had been one of the lowest priced electricity suppliers in the city.

"We held our prices after the earthquakes and have moved our prices less than all our major competitors in the market since that time," Munro said.

The Government is planning a partial sale of Mighty River Power later this year.

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