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Fresh views and better process needed on electricity reforms

MEDIA RELEASE – 6 OCTOBER 2016

Fresh views and better process needed on electricity reforms

Independent external views and better processes are an ‘absolute necessity’ before the Electricity Authority presses ahead with its next wave of proposed reforms say a group of consumer trusts, businesses, farming, local government and electricity sector participants.

The Group includes the Ashburton District Council, the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, Counties Power and its consumer trust, EA Networks, EMA Northern, Entrust, Auckland Federated Farmers, Northpower, Norske Skog, New Zealand Steel, Top Energy and Vector.

The Board of the Authority, now down to four people, met in Wellington yesterday to decide on its transmission pricing proposals.

“We look forward to hearing what’s been decided. These are far-reaching proposals that will affect a whole generation of people,” says Kim Campbell, a spokesperson for the group.

“Detailed submissions were roughly 2 to 1 against, so we now want to see genuinely independent international experts brought in to review the Authority’s work, especially their cost-benefit calculations. Bringing all the parties back together in a working group and having cross–submissions will also be vital if a lasting consensus is to be achieved. The present endless ‘propose-respond’ approach being used is not going to give the durability the Authority says it wants.”

“If the Authority is confident in the quality of its analysis, it has nothing to fear from an independent review. And if there are problems, then we’ll all be spared a restructuring that could rival the Bradford reforms for controversy.”

The Group is also calling on the Government to separately commission a wider review of the Authority’s proposals, looking at the social and economic impacts, before any changes are made.

“The Authority has a very narrow mandate that only allows it to look at the efficiency of the electricity system. But the Government has to govern in the wider interest.”

“The Authority’s own data shows that consumers connected to electricity lines companies who will stand to lose will be worse off to the tune of $115m a year, while those who will be better off are only better off to the tune of $46m a year,” he says.

“That would severely impact many people on fixed or low incomes, large numbers of small and large businesses and also a wide range of organisations already on tight budgets like schools and hospitals.”

“And our polling shows Kiwis don’t want a ‘beggar thy neighbour’ approach. 56% are unwilling to pay less for power each year if it means another household in a different part of the country had to pay more.”

ENDS


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