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Grey Power challenges Meridian’s price rise

16 July 2005

Grey Power challenges Meridian’s price rise

“We now have yet another increase in electricity from Meridian which, over the past four years, reaches almost a 50% increase in some areas,” says Grey Power president Graham Stairmand in Christchurch.

“The excuse that it is the wholesale price that has driven the price up is an absolute nonsense as Meridian is a major generator and has over the last few years provided all the energy that is needed from its own sources without having to buy on the wholesale market. The reality is that the philosophy is how much will the market bear. Our warning is that they are already over the limit

“The main concern of our members is the price of electricity and this is a concern ahead of the level of superannuation and the waiting lists for elective surgery,” says Mr Stairmand.

The national Grey Power leader says older New Zealanders “are disappointed that neither of the main parties apparently considers this an important election issue. We are pleased that the minor parties have recognised the problem.”

He says that there “seems to be a reluctance to recognise that the ever-escalating electricity prices are a burden on those with fixed incomes. No effort has been made to regulate the prices, which is not surprising as it generates so much income in the form of dividends and GST for the Government.”

Mr Stairmand ridicules the industry’s attempts to justify their prices on the basis of return on investment, saying that the value of the investment is based on maximum disposal value and has no relation to the actual cost. “It is unfair that the consumer should be penalised by this piece of political chicanery,” says Graham Stairmand.

He points out that the Electricity Commission and the Energy Minister have stoically resisted the formation of a funded consumer group working as part of the Commission. “This could at least contest price rises which are entirely at the whim of the retailer. Apparently this is an issue that has attracted little main party support but we consider that it is a prime consideration for all elderly.”

Mr Stairmand says that the fact that there has been no progress in the unbundling of electricity bills so that the recipient knows what is being paid to each of those suppliers that are in the chain, illustrates the contempt with which the supplier holds for their customer.

ENDS

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