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Promises But No Powers

Government¹s "Package" delivers promises but no powers to electricity consumers.

Labour¹s package is no better than Max Bradford¹s "Better deal for consumers". The new government is dancing to the tune of the electricity industry, just like the previous government.

Both Trans Alta and United Energy are comfortable with the electricity "Package". Both say they will both make enough profit from each consumer - including small consumers - to satisfy their (overseas) shareholders.

New Zealand¹s so-called light-handed regulation is unique in the world. The new government will not change this. In fact, electricity businesses will become even less accountable than before to consumers and environmental interests. Industry will make market rules to suit themselves, and even the so-called "independent" members will be chosen to suit the industry.

The norm overseas is for government to set the regulatory rules, and for all "stakeholders" to be represented when the rules are applied. Why should New Zealand abandon this common sense?

The 41 pages of information accompanying government¹s decisions raises more questions than answers.

… Who will represent consumers on the industry governance Board? Can such representatives be sacked if they do not perform? Who can sack them?

… Who will represent environmental interests on the Board? Who has power to sack them?

… If a tariff for small consumers has only 10% fixed charge at 8000 kWh per year, how much will will that tariff hike the per-unit charge? How much will a consumer in a pensioner flat, using only 2000 kWh per year, pay? Might they pay even more than they do today?

… The Auditor General and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment have been given the role of monitoring some outcomes from this Package. Where will the funding come from for them to carry out this role responsibly?

… When will the Package come into effect. Does it amount to a regulatory holiday for the next year? Maybe even for two years?

This Package is a cop-out. Its promises cannot be delivered unless consumers and environmental interests are given real power. Regulation must be independent, not directed by an industry Board.

Further information: Molly Melhuish, 0-568-4873, 025-230-5911 ===== Posted for the Public Power Campaign by: -- Ian Shearer Energy Information Services P O Box 576 Wellington, New Zealand [Courier:130 Hutt Rd, Petone] Phone: +64-4-586 2003 Fax: +64-4-586 2004 Mobile: 025 306 004 Email: shearer@express.co.nz

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