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National 'indifferent to disastrous impact of power price hikes'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

National is showing little concern for the axe hovering above the Kawerau mill which if proposed Electricity Authority power hikes proceed could force it to close with the loss of more than 700 jobs in the Bay of Plenty, says New Zealand First Spokesperson for Energy Fletcher Tabuteau.

"The Prime Minister’s very drab answers in the House today suggested he believed these proposals are drafts, when actually we are within a hair’s-breadth of a $900m increase in power prices for many of our struggling regions.

"The Prime Minister may believe ‘it is highly likely that once they go through their review process there’ll be further input and potentially litigation,’ but this government has ensured that there is no regulatory right of appeal to what the Electricity Authority proposes.

"The fat-cats at the Electricity Authority are little more than tin-pot dictators. It has not commissioned any independent expert reviews, has failed to engage with both submitters and their experts, and has refused to entertain cross-submissions.

"It was only when New Zealand First, lines companies, electricity users, mayors and the EMA all kicked up a fuss that there’s been any pause at all but the clock is still ticking for our regions.

"The Prime Minister is also wrong to tell Parliament ‘it [Electricity Authority] is not something the government directly influences’.

"Under Section 18 of the Electricity Industry Act 2010 the Minister of Energy can demand a review and it is high time that this power is used. Otherwise 2.5 million New Zealanders will be forced to shell out $900m for something that has already been built.

"The Kawerau mill, for example, is looking down the barrel of a possible hike in their power bill of $15 million a year if the EA’s proposals go ahead, which will be disastrous. Kawerau locals have spoken to their National MPs, and also Steven Joyce, and they have received no joy. There seems to be no support from the Prime Minister either," Mr Tabuteau says.

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