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Electricity Authority `trying to be fair'

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/05/2016

The government agrees in principle with what the Electricity Authority is trying to do through proposed changes to transmission charges, Prime Minister John Key says.

The authority on Tuesday released a discussion paper setting out a plan which would charge households differently depending on where they are, and how much they have benefited from grid upgrades.

Opposition parties are delivering a bleak response but Mr Key says the authority is trying to be fair.

"They're presenting some changes but they're trying to smooth them out," he told reporters.

"In principle, what they're trying to do the government agrees with."

At present, consumers living close to power stations pay the same transmission costs as those who live far away, and that would change under the proposals.

Auckland, Northland and the West Coast would pay more and regions like Southland would pay less.

Transmission charges are only a small part of power bills and the authority says increases, on average, would be about $11 a year.

However, it's been reported that the worst affected areas could face increases of up to $50 a year.

The Greens say the proposals mean consumers in 14 regions could pay more while those in 15 others would pay less.

"The Electricity Authority should be treating the network as a national asset for the benefit of all New Zealanders, not playing people who live in different regions off against each other," said energy spokesman Gareth Hughes.

NZ First's Fletcher Tabuteau says households in Northland and the West Coast would be hard hit.

"Many in regional New Zealand are likely to be slammed with higher power charges to guarantee the profits and fat salaries of big energy companies and the Electricity Authority," he said.

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