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Families won’t be fooled by Nats twisting electricity stats

20 March 2014

Families won’t be fooled by National twisting the electricity stats

National’s attempt to mask rising power prices by handing control of the statistics over to the power companies won’t fool Kiwi families, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.

The Government has announced that it will cancel the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment’s Quarterly Survey of Domestic Electricity Prices (QSDEP). The QSDEP is a key source of data on electricity prices, which has revealed that the average family is paying $360 a year more for electricity under National. It will be replaced by data privately supplied by the electricity companies themselves, rather than independently gathered by MBIE from public sources.

New figures from the QSDEP released today show that household power prices rose 2.9% in the past year even as demand fell, and that 70% of the increase came from the electricity companies, not transmission and lines costs.

“National can try whatever tricks it likes to hide the rise in electricity prices. Families won’t be fooled when they open up their power bills,” said Dr Norman.

“National is effectively letting the electricity companies decide what the official statistics say about the price of power. This can only be seen as a further attempt by National to hide the unacceptable increase in electricity prices on its watch.

“The justification that the new figures will include discounts that the companies offer is spurious. The current data already includes online and prompt payment discounts. Including loyalty, retention, and acquisition payments, which only a small number of customers receive on a one-off basis, would give a false impression of the price that families actually pay for the power that they consume.

“The changes will prevent analysis of the price that each retailer charges for power. That looks like an attempt to hide the effect of privatisation because the former SOEs previously had lower power prices than the private companies.

“The latest figures show that Kiwi families continue to pay too much for electricity even though demand is falling. Electricity prices rose 2.9% last year even as demand fell by 2%.

“Today’s figures show 70% of the rise in power prices last year came from the electricity companies, not transmission and lines costs. That makes a lie of John Key’s claim that rising power prices are necessary to pay for investment in transmission infrastructure.

“National should stop trying to twist the stats and face the reality: families are paying too much for power. The Greens’ NZ Power plan will bring prices down, saving families $300 a year each,” said Dr Norman.


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