Energy firm price hikes ETS-driven

Mercury Energy, a wholly-owned subsidiary of state-owned enterprise Mighty River Power, signalled yesterday that its energy prices were on the way up because of the emissions trading scheme.

Mercury general manager James Munro said the ETS was a Government-imposed cost on all electricity and gas production that emitted greenhouse gases.

The ETS would increase wholesale electricity and gas prices, with average residential electricity bills for Mercury customers rising $5 a month (3.3%) and average residential gas bills up $1.75 a month (2.4%), he said.

Prime Minister John Key said earlier this week the "average household" faced higher charges of around $3 a week because of the ETS, the first stage of which comes into effect on July 1.

However, analysis undertaken by the Otago Daily Times estimated the minimum impact per household would be $165 a year and could go as high as $330 a year for the first stage of the ETS.

At the top of the price rise will be a 10c-a-litre rise in the price of petrol.

Electricity prices were estimated by economists to rise by about 2%, but that has blown out this week to around 5%.

Petrol prices will be hit by a 3.5c rise on July 1, because of the ETS, a further 3c or more rise on October 1 with the rise in GST and a rise of more than 3c in excise tax later in the year.

Rent rises also appear on the way.

A majority of landlords approved of the 2010 Budget overall, but 47% said they put up their rents as a result of no longer being able to claim depreciation on their properties, the NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development said yesterday.

Overall, 45% of residential rental property owners rated the Budget good to excellent (compared with 39% of the general population), and 14% rated it as poor (23% of the general population).

Some 32% of landlords rated the Budget as neutral, compared with 28% of all respondents to the post-Budget survey, conducted for the council by ShapeNZ.


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