Opaque bills keep us in the dark

I have spoken and written about the need for greater transparency in our power bills. I wrote about how it suits power companies to have a vague billing system, which does not allow us to see where price increases occur.

I had said that New Zealanders deserve clear bills that tell us where our money is going, so that we can make sound financial choices for our households and families.

I explained the reasons why I have written a Private Members Bill on Electricity Transparency because New Zealanders deserve to see who is responsible when our power prices rise.

And prices have been rising dramatically for many of us this year.

Disappointing move

I am disappointed to see that the Government has announced a plan to change the way in which electricity price increases are calculated.

This would become even less transparent and hide the fact that electricity prices are rapidly going up.

The government’s decision to change electricity price increase reporting methodology means increases cannot be compared with previous years and hence we would not be able to see the extent of increase since the market came into operation.

We will not be able to easily compare price increases over time.

The most recent round of price hikes will be minimised.

Cynical timing

This new method of calculation will come into effect for the June quarter – just in time for the election, which I find rather cynical.

In the past two months tens of thousands of households have received their bills with steep price rises. Those latest increases will come through in the next round, just in time for the new calculations. The new way of measuring electricity price increases will make them seem smaller than they really are.
Our electricity system is old, out of date, it’s increasingly expensive for households, and it lacks transparency and clarity. Labour has bold, internationally-proven policies to modernise the system.

In the meantime, electricity prices are continuing their upward climb, promising a hard winter for many New Zealanders.

David Shearer is elected Member of Parliament from Mt Albert and Labour Party’s Energy Spokesman.

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