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Mallard Speech: Electricity and Gas Complaints Com

Electricity and Gas Complaints Commission

Trevor Mallard Speech to launch of rebranded Electricity and Gas Complaints Commission, Hotel Intercontinental, Wellington

I am delighted to be involved today in the launch of the re-branded Electricity and Gas Complaints Commission. The expansion of the commission to cover gas complaints is a very welcome and timely development.

It is encouraging that consumers with complaints about their gas company will have access to an independent and free complaints service, in the same way that electricity consumers have had since January 2002.

Another positive is that consumers can take their electricity and gas complaints to the one authority.

I appreciate the work that the commission has undertaken in conjunction with the Gas Industry Company to amend the commission’s constitution and effect other changes to enable gas complaints to be incorporated into the scheme.

This development represents an important milestone in the transition to the new gas governance and market arrangements in the post-Maui era.

It is also good to see that one of the first recommendations that I have received from the Gas Industry Company and currently considering for approval is the implementation of a scheme that will directly benefit customers.

Of all the requirements that the Gas Industry Company is charged with meeting under the Government Policy Statement, I regard the consumer-related ones as some of the most important.

As I have said previously to this industry, the importance of good residential customer relations should not be underestimated. The residential gas market is the “public face” of the industry.

I believe that the gas industry has taken the sensible approach in approaching the commission to expand its role to include gas complaints.

As an Electricity Complaints Commission, the commission has served New Zealand electricity consumers well since it first began business in January 2002.

It is an excellent example of industry self-regulation. I understand that it is based on a set of benchmarks established by Consumer Affairs agencies in Australia and New Zealand and that over 1000 complaints were dealt with last year and this year looks like exceeding that level. It will be important that the Gas Industry Company ensures that all gas retailers and distributors become members of the scheme. I will be watching closely to ensure that there is full participation in the scheme.

The challenge now for the commission, and for the Gas Industry Company and its members, is the important task to inform gas consumers about this scheme and the services that are associated with it.

And finally, while we are on the subject of the need for further and ongoing public education, it is good to see that gas companies are taking the initiative to dispel a widespread but erroneously-held perception that gas is running out for domestic consumers. I am advised that there is ample supply of gas for many years to come for domestic gas users, who only consume about five percent of production.

I wish the commission all the best over the coming years in its expanded role.

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