Electricity sector slammed

Winston Peters.
Winston Peters.
Winston Peters homed in on power prices and the evils of the ''market'' in a speech to mainly elderly people in South Dunedin yesterday.

The New Zealand First leader told a Grey Power public meeting at the South Dunedin Community Hall that staying warm was a necessity in Dunedin, but it was becoming increasingly unaffordable.

The electricity sector was a self-serving market imposing massive costs and giving few benefits to New Zealanders.

The situation was made worse by the sell-down of government holdings in electricity companies, as only a tiny percentage of people could afford to buy what was once owned by all.

Power prices continually increased, while the people were told this was the market at work.

More than 1000 power company managers received salaries of more than $100,000 a year, while electricity chief executives and board members were also well remunerated, he said.

Cheap power had once given New Zealand a great competitive advantage over the rest of the world, he said.

The audience responded positively to Mr Peters' speech, but a rare note of scepticism emerged when he labelled Forsyth Barr Stadium the best such venue in Australasia.

''Are you going to pay for it?'' an audience member interjected.

Mr Peters said the stadium should pay for itself, at which some audience members booed, prompting him to protest he was not the local council.

After the speech, the Otago Daily Times asked Mr Peters whether he regretted advocating the break-up of the state-owned generator ECNZ in the late 1990s when he was deputy prime minister.

At the time, 1998, Mr Peters claimed the move would see power prices ''dramatically reduced'' for householders and businesses.

Mr Peters told the ODT yesterday he had been ''misled'' by then energy minister Max Bradford about price regulation which was to have followed.


Hard to know

Everyone hates paying bills, especially unavoidable ones like power. Winston will get traction with this. My opinion is that when we rightly chose wind power as the source for our new generation we accepted it would be more expensive than power from a new dam at Beaumont or wherever (hydro is the source of Winston's aforementioned cheap power). Hard to know whether Winston First is right or not. I suspect a little of both.

A National Disgrace

The gouging of residential electricity customers by what amounts to a cartel of energy suppliers who rake in millions of dollars in after-expenses profits per year and a glut of overpaid executives in the sector is a national disgrace and one of the major contributors to income inequality in New Zealand.

Kiwis seemingly have bought into the argument that they should pay the same price as Swiss bankers for NZ meat and dairy, but the electricity companies have no such "market price" excuse - the electricity is generated locally and there is no exhorbitant shipping cost.   Kiwi power prices have increased at twice the rate of most other countries over the past three decades and there is one main reason for this - pure unadulterated corporate greed and the sell out politicians that cater to industry at the expense of the working family.

Victoria University researcher Geoff Bertram has found that New Zealand's power
prices are now more than twice what they were 30 years ago, in real
terms. In the United States, Britain, Japan, France and
most of Europe inflation-adjusted power prices are below or on par with what they were in
the mid-1980s.

Bringing the electricity industry to heel in New Zealand must become a major election issue this time around.


Has anyone seen how much the sale of our assets contributed to the budget "surplus" under National? It certainly wasnt generated by their support for manufacturing here. I have to laugh. To me it's like a burglar being proud that he can support his family now he has emptied your house out while you where looking the other way. Good to see the Chinese trains are proving a good investment too. Much better than Hillside could ever do, aye. Who needs local industry when you can buddy up to the communist sweat shops?

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