Workshop aims to explore provider switch for Turangi residents.
Turangi residents have taken their fight against crippling electric lines charges to the Taupo District Council in a bid to switch power distributors.
The council is to hold a workshop today to investigate ways to get the 4400 customers at the bottom of Lake Taupo off The Lines Company (TLC) network and on to the Unison grid, which supplies power to Taupo, Rotorua and Hawkes Bay.
Turangi residents claim TLC's "demand charge" has boosted some lines charges by up to 400 per cent.
Alasdair McNab, 91, said when TLC installed a "time of use" meter at his home several years ago his kilowatt load per hour jumped from 0.51 to 2.4 and now his monthly lines bill has risen to $70, much more than his actual power bill.
TLC, the only distributor of electricity to 20,000 homes, farms and businesses from Otorohanga to Ohakune, introduced capacity-based pricing in 2007 to reduce peak loading on the network.
Its charging formula is based on power use, where a monthly rate is calculated on the average of the top six two-hour periods over a year.
Mr McNab, who uses a heat pump in winter, said transferring to the Unison network was an action residents took reluctantly.
"Because we know that if we are successful this is going to place a huge burden on the remaining customers because all the revenue from this area will be lost to The Lines Company."
Mr McNab and retired scientist Mark Cosgrove lobbied the Turangi/Tongariro Community Board to seek removal of the Tokaanu Grid Exit Point from TLC.
Dr Cosgrove believed transfer to Unison was feasible despite possible technical complications because of the area's geographic isolation.
Brian Gurney, chairman of the King Country Electric Power Trust, which owns 10 per cent of TLC, said getting the Government to legislate to change the provider or convincing TLC to sell the Turangi asset would be very difficult.
Taupo Mayor Rick Cooper said Turangi had his support but he was concerned it would take Government legislation to change the situation.
"The bills are just quite horrendous," he said.
"All we can do really is advocate and so we will go down that path and investigate."
Today's workshop would address the cost of the transfer and who would pay, and which government agencies to lobby if necessary.
Unison relationship and customer care manager Danny Gough said the company was open to opportunities to expand its network foot-print where it is commercially attractive.
"But we are not actively seeking to acquire the network in Turangi."
The Lines Company chief executive John Anderson said TLC could consider selling that part of its network to Turangi if the price was right.
However he pointed out that Unison's charges would be higher for Turangi's permanent residents than TLC's, and that seasonal homeowners and some tourism operators would pay less.
Network costs per kilowatt hour
The Lines Company: 10.4c
Unison: 6.1c (excl GST) plus daily fixed charges (up to 11.21c)
* Turangi residents should not expect to pay the same lower Unison rate as other customers.