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Double whammy for electricity users

Small electricity users have been hit by a double whammy with TransAlta's fixed charge hike and confirmation that line companies are over-charging their customers by about $200 million a year, National Energy spokesperson Pansy Wong said today.

"The independent report from Simon Terry Associates shows that line companies are extracting too much from their customers in profits.

"National saw that coming and wanted to do something about it last year - but Labour refused to support our legislation.

"The Commerce (Controlled Goods or Services) Amendment Bill would have given the Commerce Commission more power to insist on fair prices according to a modern price control formula.

"But despite all its talk about consumers, Labour refused to support us.

"Energy Minister Peter Hodgson is still sitting on his hands doing nothing while consumers struggle through the worst months of winter.

"For TransAlta's consumers, the announcement of sharply increased fixed charges must be the last straw.

"High fixed charges hit those who can least afford it hardest, such as the elderly. They are no incentive at all to save electricity or look at other forms of energy," Mrs Wong.

Ends

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