22 Jun 2013

People on low incomes 'struggling to keep warm'

7:11 am on 22 June 2013

A group working to warm up New Zealand's homes says people on low incomes are struggling to keep warm as the number of power disconnections goes up.

Latest figures from the Electricity Authority show that in the first quarter of this year, power was cut to 9620 homes where people hadn't paid their bills, up from about 2000 disconnections in early 2008.

Community Energy Network spokesperson Jo Wills says many people struggle to pay and are left in a vulnerable situation, often getting sick.

Ms Wills says she wants minimum energy performance standards incorporated into the Government's rental house warrant of fitness scheme.

A lobby group representing the elderly says the growing number of electricity disconnections is a major concern.

Grey Power president Roy Reid says the issue lies with the power companies, whose prices are too high. He says the rising number of disconnections is worrying as the months grow colder, as many Grey Power members rely on electricity to cook and feed themselves.

However, one power company, Mercury Energy, says the number of its disconnections is actually down so far this year.

It says 310 households have been disconnected compared to with 2000 customers two or three years ago, and 80% are reconnected within six hours.