Cut price power bid for elderly

By Kiri Gillespie


Grey Power is trying to negotiate a deal for cheaper power for its 64,000 members amid reports some elderly are not heating their homes because it is too expensive.

The price of power in Tauranga increased by $83 in the past year, figures released this week by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show.

Grey Power Tauranga president Christina Humphreys said the issue had become so serious the organisation was in the process of arranging a deal with a power company that would make power more affordable for seniors.

Ms Humphreys would not comment further on the project or name the company, as the deal was yet to be finalised. She said increasing power prices were a major problem in Tauranga.

"We know that it's getting worse with the older people. They don't have enough money to pay their bills and there's a generation, the ones in the 80s, they don't like to waste things. They don't put the heater on, they wrap up in a blanket or go to bed early.

"There's a big concern at the moment about elderly people, especially on their own, freezing to death. They are not feeding themselves or heating themselves."

Ms Humphreys said many older Tauranga residents had lived in their homes for a long time, not wanting to move.

"Then the values of properties around them go up as they get developed, so the rates go up and they can't afford it. Between that and the power bills ... it is a problem."

The project was headed by Grey Power's national office, which was advising members to avoid signing up for long-term contracts in anticipation of the deal. National president Roy Reid said the negotiations were commercially sensitive and he was unable to name the power company. He was hoping to be able to make an announcement in the next few days.

Mr Reid said it was the first time Grey Power had entered into negotiations of that magnitude. "We think it will be in the members' interests."

TrustPower community relations manager Graeme Purches said he could not see how a discounted power deal for a group could work.

His company had a payment option offering slightly cheaper power over a long-term contract, Mr Purches said.

"The only way it could work is to have a similar deal, that's where they agree to be our customer for four or five years for a discounted price," Mr Purches said.

Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Dianne Bruin said she regularly recommended people switch to a "smooth pay" system offered by providers - an agreed amount paid weekly that contributes to the monthly power bill.

Ways to help save money on power

  • Close curtains as the sun sets, keeping the warmth from the sun indoors

  • Keep doors closed in an effort to seal in heat to a main room

  • Turn off power switches at the wall when not in use

  • Shut off television or computers from stand-by mode

  • Replace lightbulbs with energy efficient bulbs

- Bay of Plenty Times

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