Privatised power companies too focussed on short-term pay-outs

Partially privatised energy companies are keeping electricity prices artificially high and ignoring international clean energy investment opportunities to ensure private shareholders get big pay-outs, the Green Party said today.

Genesis Energy today announced a $172.8 million operating profit, up from $150.6 million, following Meridian Energy’s announcement last week that it will pay a $625 million special dividend to shareholders.

“Households must be struggling to understand why their energy bills keep increasing, but the energy companies keep handing over big pay-outs to shareholders. The balance isn’t right,” said Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

“Investors might be feeling pleased, but Kiwi households are going to be shivering this winter while shareholders cash in.

“New Zealand is missing out on the global clean energy revolution. Our energy companies are ignoring the opportunities to invest in and export our clean energy expertise and instead they’re focussed on handing out a short-term profit.

“Meridian and Mighty River Power are both sacrificing long-term investments in clean energy for immediate pay-outs to shareholders. Now it looks like there’s uncertainty around Contact’s international clean energy investment opportunities too.

“This is classic short-termism. It’s unbelievable that our power companies are pulling out of clean energy at the same time as global investment is ramping up.

“The Government should never have partially privatised the energy companies. They should be used to drive the transition to a cleaner economy in New Zealand, and their expertise should be exported to help other countries embrace clean energy,” Mr Hughes said.