27 Oct 2008

Contact customers deluge Trustpower with calls

7:54 am on 27 October 2008

Thousands of Contact Energy customers have been making calls to other power companies in an apparent public backlash against the company.

Contact Energy has lifted charges in Otago and Wellington by more than 10% and doubled the pool for director's fees.

It voted last week to double its fee pool for directors thanks to the bloc voting of Origin Energy, the Australian-owned company that owns 51% of Contact.

But Contact says directors will not be paid any more for the time being.

Trustpower spokesperson, Graeme Purches, says the company received a month's worth of calls on Thursday alone.

As well as the directors' fees, he says callers have been angry about Contact signing up new customers over winter on fixed-price contracts before hiking everyone's else bills.

The head of corporate affairs for Contact Energy, Bruce Parkes, would say only that the effect of the backlash has not been significant.

And he said price rises in the South Island were due to under-investment in the transmission network.

Genesis Energy says many Contact customers have been calling to find out who owns Genesis and how much it pays its directors.