21 Jun 2015

Increase may lead to "power poverty"

7:41 pm on 21 June 2015

The Northland power company Top Energy says many communities will be tipped into what it calls power poverty if the Electricity Authority increases power bills for the region.

The authority has proposed increasing the transmission component of bills for customers in the Far North by as much as $266 a year.

The company's chief executive, Russell Shaw, said if the authority's proposal to push up transmission costs went ahead, it would be a huge step backwards in terms of trying to encourage investment in the region.

He said the area needed economic stimulation, not greater operating costs for businesses.

Mr Shaw said some communities would struggle to afford any price hike.

He also said with the planned growth of local power generation at Ngawha, it may be cheaper for Top Energy to bypass the Transpower transmission system completely.