Govt must rule out huge line charge increases for households

The Green Party is calling on the Government to rule out huge increases to electricity lines charges, in the wake of a suggestion from the Electricity Authority that some households could be facing $500 increases to their yearly electricity bills just because of where they live.

The Green Party is calling on the Government to rule out huge increases to electricity lines charges, in the wake of a suggestion from the Electricity Authority that some households could be facing $500 increases to their yearly electricity bills just because of where they live.

“Households have already been hit by relentlessly rising bills and the Government needs to step in so Auckland, Northland, and West Coast consumers don’t face further skyrocketing bills because of changes to lines charges,” Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes said.

“People have been pummelled by rising power prices for years and this could be the knock-out punch.

“Major industrial power users like the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter could stand to save $50 million annually while households in Northland, the West Coast, and Auckland will face much higher bills under the proposal.

“Some changes might be appropriate to the current system, but increasing household bills by up to $500 is clearly unfair.

“Families shouldn’t be forced to switch off the heater or go off the grid so a taxpayer-subsidised smelter can benefit by tens of millions of dollars.

“The electricity grid is a national asset that benefits everyone and people shouldn’t be financially penalised just because they live where they do.

“With almost half a million households in Auckland at the 2013 census, each facing a $192 increase under these proposals, the total cost to Aucklanders’ wallets would be almost $100 million every year.

“In Northland, the median income is just $23,000 and on the West Coast it’s $29,000. The proposed $260 and $497 increase to power bills in these regions will hit households who are already struggling.

“When you add together the increased costs to households, Northlanders are facing a $15.6 million bill and West Coast households will be stung by $6.9 million. That’s unfair to those communities.

“If remote households suddenly face much higher transmission charges, those who can afford to will choose to go off-grid completely, leaving those who can least afford it to pay for the ongoing maintenance of the transmission grid.

“Smarter solutions are needed to reduce consumption through energy efficiency measures and encourage local renewable generation to avoid the need for expensive distribution infrastructure,” said Mr Hughes. 

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