Meridian and Genesis users face bigger bills

SHORT FUSE: Doug Cleveland is not happy with the latest hike to his power bill.
SHORT FUSE: Doug Cleveland is not happy with the latest hike to his power bill.

South Canterbury customers with Genesis and Meridian will face a hike in their power bill from next month.

For Genesis customers this means an average 15 per cent increase, and Meridian about 5 per cent.

"Many South Canterbury customers have not had an increase since 2009," Genesis spokesman Richard Gordon said.

"To date Genesis Energy has absorbed increased transmission costs, however it cannot continue to do so on a sustainable basis."

For Genesis, this means the average South Canterbury household annual rate moves from $2219 to $2530.

But several customers, including local Doug Cleveland, have complained to the Herald.

"Since 2004, our power prices have gone up by close to 100 per cent. How much longer can we put up with this? It's just cruel. Something has got to give. They make these massive profits, and yet we're not getting anything in return," Mr Cleveland said.

Meridian and Genesis' move comes after most of the other power companies already increased their charges for South Canterbury users this year.

Most of them blame increased transmission costs passed on via national grid operator Transpower, and then on to local lines company Alpine Energy.

Contact Energy spokesman Jeremy Seed acknowledged that the average price for its South Canterbury customers rose by 8.4 per cent in March. "I appreciate that this does have an effect [on people's living costs]. No-one likes increases."

But Mr Seed said government-led initiatives, such as the "what's my number" website, encouraged a greater openness.

"People can see the deals on offer in real time, and switch if they think they can get a better one. We're trying our best to be competitive."

Mercury Energy spokeswoman Katherine Litten said South Canterbury customers' bills increased by 5.6 per cent, effective from March, making the average bill $2228 a year. In April last year, customers had their bill hiked by 2.5 per cent.

But South Canterbury customers who accepted the fixed price plan offer had no increase.

Typical Trustpower customers in Timaru pay about $1880 a year. Their last increase was 4.4 per cent, in July, 2011.

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The Timaru Herald