Boult takes aim at DCC over proposed power price hike

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult. Photo: ODT files
Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult. Photo: ODT files
Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult has promised to fight a proposal to increase power prices by nearly $500 for many Otago households and taken aim at Aurora Energy's owner the Dunedin City Council.

Mr Boult said the DCC benefited from "highly inflated dividends" from Aurora which should have instead been spent on maintenance and said it should consider footing some of the huge maintenance bill instead of power consumers.

This comes after Aurora outlines a three-year, $400 million programme to tackle ageing electricity infrastructure in Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown.

Aurora Energy chief executive Dr Richard Fletcher said the proposed plan, which would need to be approved by the Commerce Commission following consultation, was about the "prudent investment that is essential to meet the needs of our communities now and into our future, to address the errors of the past and position the network for its future use''.

The proposal outlines estimated increases in residential line charges of up to $21 a month in the year ending March 2022, or $252 for the year, followed by up to $10 a month in 2023 and 2024 to fund a significant increase in network and related system upgrades and maintenance.

Mr Boult issued a statement this after noon expressing "deep concern and disappointment" at the scale of potential price increases signalled today by Aurora for its customers in the Queenstown Lakes District.

Aurora has signalled that it will be requesting Commerce Commission approval for price rises which could amount to increases in the order of 18% per annum for some years for both retail and commercial customers in the district, he said.

The proposed increases reflect the requirement to upgrade Aurora’s infrastructure following a long period of underspend on maintenance and replacement.

"This increase is in large part a result of highly inflated dividends paid by Aurora to its owner, the Dunedin City Council over a period of years.

"I would suggest this money should have been invested more wisely in maintaining and improving Aurora’s infrastructure and, if it had been, this situation would not be before us now. It is my belief that the DCC should consider a capital contribution to Aurora as part of addressing this issue.

“I have asked [QLDC]  staff to engage with suitable advisers to investigate the proposed increases and to prepare a likely submission to the Commerce Commission strongly opposing the increases. This is an incredibly important issue for us all to consider as a district, and one that has the potential for a significant financial effect."

"I would encourage everyone to take time to be informed.

"We need to be asking Aurora what the alternative options are instead of just hiking prices.

"What are the viable options and what are the implications for us all?

"It may mean a compromise for both our district's ratepayers and Aurora, but we really need to reach the best possible outcome for everyone that makes it both affordable and futureproofed."

 

 

 

Comments

Boult is quite correct This should have come as no surprise to aurora The col in Queenstown bis high enough. this is a rort

Well done Mr Boult more people in Dunedin need to start to stand up to the idiots making these decisions and hold them accountable. Cull swept any non positive things under the carpet and so does Bidrose,

I wish Dunedin had quality individuals like this running for office. Sad that a mayor from a different city has to stand up for the people of Dunedin! But nobody in Dunedin is surprised!

I agree with Mr Boult, what happened with the lines charges we have already been paying?, likely to fat pay checks and bonuses to the ceo's and not on maintenance as we have seen and now we all have to pay yet again.

Mr Boult said the DCC benefited from "highly inflated dividends" from Aurora which should have instead been spent on maintenance and said it should consider footing some of the huge maintenance bill instead of power consumers. Good to see a politician tell the truth, pity of it is, not a single voice on the DCC would admit it.

 

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