Average household's power bill jumps by $107

By Teuila Fuatai

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The average Hawke's Bay power bill jumped by $107 this year - but some households are forking out $250 more than in 2011.

Figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show average Hawke's Bay power costs increased by $107 in the 12 months to November 15.

Nationally, power bills rose by an average of $117 - though some consumers were hit by increases of more than $400.

Locally, Genesis Energy customers whose properties were supplied by lines company Centralines saw the biggest hike in charges this year ($254). About 9 per cent of the price increase was from a rise in the Centralines transmission fee.

Genesis Energy spokesman Richard Gordon said, "In Hawke's Bay, we hadn't had a price change for 25 months. Basically, it was a catch-up and a large amount of the increase was driven by increases in network charges."

Everyday business costs and price changes to wholesale energy also contributed to the price change, Mr Gordon said.

Nearly 40 per cent of Hawke's Bay power consumers were supplied by the Unison lines company and were registered with Contact Energy, in the 12 months to November 15. These customers experienced an $85 average increase in their power bills.

Nova Energy customers supplied by Unison experienced no change in prices.

Powershop chief executive Ari Sargent said where energy companies' prices had increased, this was mainly due to higher transmission prices and more expensive retail costs.

He expected power prices to edge higher next year as costs associated with the national power grid update filtered through to consumers.

"On average, I think most people would expect to see relatively flat prices, maybe a slight increase," Mr Sargent said.

"They shouldn't be expecting a large increase in most cases."

Households in the King Country were least affected by power hikes - average bills rose $28 in the past year.

Far North residents were slammed with the largest increases, with average power prices jumping $306.

In November 29,246 customers switched power companies in New Zealand, according to the Electricity Authority. About 700 of these were from Hawke's Bay.

Mr Sargent said "timing" played a large role in price changes.

Power companies decided for themselves when to pass increases in lines charges on to their customers, he said.

"About 90 per cent of what a customer pays is fixed either through ... the wholesale energy costs or transmission and distribution charges."

Customer servicing costs, the profit margin set by power companies and GST made up the rest, Mr Sergeant said.


- APNZ

- Hawkes Bay Today

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