No excuse for power price hikes

The latest electricity price hike, coming as it does during the coldest winter months, will once again hit hardest those least able to afford it – the elderly and those on low incomes, Labour’s Energy spokesperson David Shearer says.

“While the Government is smugly trumpeting a ‘small’ 2.3 per cent increase in power prices to the year to March, what Energy Minister Simon Bridges is not saying is that the increase is smaller because the Government has changed the way it calculates electricity pricing.

“Under the previous system rises this quarter – still above the rate of inflation - would have been higher.

“What Mr Bridges also ignores is that even the smallest increase makes a difference to Kiwis on fixed and low incomes.  

“As Federation of Family Budgeting Services chief executive Raewyn Fox has pointed out rising food and fuel prices mean many people her organisation deals with dread winter because of the added pressure of paying the power bill.

“This leads to families and the elderly economising and living in cold homes as a result.

“Prices here have continued to rise in a time of less demand when a fall in demand should result in a drop in prices, as is the case in other countries.

“That is hardly evidence of the competitive market working as argued by Mr Bridges.

“Despite the Government blaming a rise in line charges for the price hikes, almost three-quarters of the increase is due to the big energy companies bumping up their prices.

“With all of the power companies now controlled by private interests, New Zealanders can expect further price rises as those companies seek to maximise profits to shareholders.

“Labour will tackle high electricity prices and create a new agency called NZ Power. It will act as a single buyer of wholesale electricity - saving New Zealand households hundreds of dollars every year, and putting a lid on future price increases.”