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"Government Interference Unacceptable"

"Government Interference Unacceptable" - Energy Trusts

"Frustration and annoyance that Government and the Commerce Commission is once again interfering in the operation of Trust owned network companies" was the reaction of Mr Dominic O¹Sullivan, Chairman of the Energy Trusts of New Zealand, the umbrella organisation for community owned energy trusts in New Zealand. He was reacting to the latest round of proposals for price controls on line charges suggested by the Commerce Commission.

The Commerce Commission, in a draft document released for comment, is proposing to enforce a reduction in line charges of 5% per annum for each of the next five years.

Mr O¹Sullivan retorted that energy trust owned network companies have already cut operating costs to the bare minimum. In order to achieve the proposed new reductions the security of supply to customers would need to be severely threatened. "The only way I can see such line charge reductions being achieved is by stopping the companies from implementing their asset management plans and by reducing the number of staff who carry out maintenance and emergency call outs" said Mr O'Sullivan.

"The result will be an incredible threat to the stability and sustainability of electricity distribution in many areas of New Zealand."

"Trust owned lines companies throughout New Zealand have served their consumers well in that they have cut operating costs to the bare minimum and return profits directly to their consumers by way of discounts, or as grants to community projects."

"The results of Trust owned network companies should be compared to the performance of the corporate owned network companies who have kept line charges high and paid healthy dividends to their often-overseas owners. Those companies would have ample room to move to meet the proposed line charge reduction targets. We urge the Commerce Commission and the Government to look again at these disastrous proposals" concluded Mr O'Sullivan.

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