20 Feb 2009

Call for power cut compensation

9:41 am on 20 February 2009

A major business lobby group says the electricity lines company Vector should compensate businesses blacked out by power failure.

Electricity was cut to Auckland's Newmarket area at 12.40pm on Thursday, affecting 1800 customers for the second time in just over two weeks.

The Major Electricity Users Group says consumers do not mind paying lines companies for proper service but when it is unreliable they should be reimbursed.

The group represents 22 large corporations which use almost 30% of New Zealand's electricity.

It says Vector, which has just reported healthy earnings, buttressed by asset sales, should compensate businesses which lost customers and turnover.

Vector says businesses affected should contact their insurers.

However, Major Electricity Users Group executive director Ralph Matthes says Vector should look at its commercial terms so that it bears some risk, which would be a key incentive for change.

Vector chief executive Simon MacKenzie has apologised to the 1800 customers affected, but says Thursday's power cut was not long enough to prompt any payouts.

Mr MacKenzie says the company makes a voluntarily service payment to customers who have lost supply for two-and-a-half hours or more, however it does not make wider compensation payments.

Vector says the electricity supply cut on Thursday affected customers on Kingdon Street, parts of Broadway and Suiter Street. Power was fully restored on Thursday afternoon.

On 3 February, 74,000 Transpower customers across the city were affected by a major outage.

The Newmarket Business Association says the situation is unacceptable and is what happens in the third world.