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Take the power back, the Alliance says

Take the power back, the Alliance says

People are paying 30%-40% extra for electricity since 2000 because pricing is based on “market forces”, and not what ordinary people can afford to pay for what is an essential public service, the Alliance Party says.

This, despite the fact that the Government has raked in a fat $916 million from state-owned Meridian, Genesis Energy and Mighty River Power since 1999, and profits for the big five generating companies have amounted to $3.56 billion since the industry was deregulated in 1997.

Delegates at the Alliance annual conference held in Christchurch last weekend agreed on a campaign to generate input from the community into the Electricity Commission’s review of the structure of the electricity market. The Commerce Commission is also reviewing the lack of competition in the power industry.

The Alliance is organising to bring community members together in all the major centres to prepare the “people’s submission” to the reviews. This will be backed up by a postcard and petition campaign to urge the Government to bring electricity back under 100% public ownership and control.

Alliance co-leader Paul Piesse says the Commerce Commission is looking at whether there is enough competition in the sector, but more competition is not the answer.

“Essential services like electricity should be properly planned on a long-term basis to ensure a sustainable energy future and not be based on short-term gain at the whim of corporate speculators.”

Mr Piesse says the current structure of the industry is clearly not working for the people and the Electricity Commission should recommend abandoning the market model.

“People are outraged that their power bills have gone through the roof while energy company managers get huge salaries and bonuses.

“Success in managing energy corporations is measured in takeovers and profits extracted on the speculative market, not in building new energy capacity to ensure security of supply, or delivering electricity to our homes at cheaper prices,” Mr Piesse says.

The Alliance says the introduction of competitive retail companies has been an abject failure. Customers have been reluctant to change retail suppliers because there is little difference in the price of power being offered.

“What determines the price of electricity is the mythical ‘market’. The wholesale price spike this year was the result of below average lake levels leading to windfall profits for companies like Meridian. Not a single unit of extra power was produced.”

Mr Piesse says the Alliance advocates the return of electricity to full public ownership and public control, so that New Zealanders receive affordable power in a democratic and accountable system. END

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