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Leave Household Electricity Prices Alone

21 August 2001

Enough Is Enough! Leave Household Electricity Prices Alone

The Minister of SOEs, Mark Burton, must give an assurance the Government will not allow its electricity companies to hammer householders the same way they are hammering business, National's Bill English said today.

"At a time when a Government Minister is on TV asking New Zealanders to pull together, the public deserve to know why the Government is banking windfall profits at their expense and what plans it has for more of the same as the crisis bites."

Mr English says Government owned companies are already making large profits at the expense of small and large business because of the energy crisis.

"For example, around $160 million from the big loss announced by Natural Gas Corporation this week has gone to state-owned electricity companies," Bill English said.

"Industry sources inform me that Genesis Energy, a state-owned generator and retailer of electricity, is making profits of around $2 million a day because it is generating the most electricity for the spot market, where the high prices are occurring.

"Hospitals, resthomes and schools are among the organisations already suffering due to very high prices and those same state-owned electricity companies are now eyeing up the public.

"How confident can an elderly person feel, living in Auckland and turning off the heater to save power, when Mercury Energy is wielding the threat that it can raise prices as often as it likes with just two days' notice?

"The Government should tell the public what profits it is making, whether it can resist the temptation to make more profits from households, and whether it will rebate those windfall gains back to the people hammered by high prices now.

People running schools, hospitals and small businesses want to know - even if the Minister of SOE's Mark Burton has so far done his best to hide this information," Bill English said.

Ends


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