The Green Party will introduce a mandatory code of compliance for power companies dealing with medically dependent and vulnerable consumers, in light of a quadrupling in the number of people whose power is being disconnected, and a drop in hardship grants for people struggling to pay their bills.
“The code is currently voluntary, which is not good enough when there are so many vulnerable people having trouble paying their bills,” said Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
Last year alone, 41,000 families were disconnected for being unable to pay their bill.
In 2012, eight electricity companies were found to be in breach of the Guidelines for Medically Dependent and Vulnerable Consumers. Of the 13 companies assessed, only three fully complied. The Government decided no further intervention was required.
“These voluntary guidelines aren’t working. We need a mandatory code because power companies are breaching the current voluntary guidelines and we have reached a crisis point with the number of disconnections,” said Mr Hughes.
“Simon Bridges has said he’s ‘somewhat surprised’ by the disconnection numbers. He shouldn’t be. Average power prices have risen by $360 a year under his Government and energy poverty is a very real issue in this country.
“The Minister’s comments demonstrate again how out of touch National is with the price pressure ordinary families are under.
“National is standing on the side of power companies. The Greens will bring power companies into line and require them to comply with the mandatory code.”
The Green Party has introduced a range of proposals to reduce energy costs, including its NZ Power plan, which is expected to cut household energy bills by $300 a year, and its Solar Homes loan scheme to help consumers break free from the big energy companies.
“The Green Party will be campaigning on cheaper power prices this election because families have had enough of National’s inaction,” said Mr Hughes.