Three long-serving former TECT trustees have united to oppose controversial changes to phase out TECT cheques and distribute all the income to community organisations.
Michael Cooney, Bruce Cronin and Ken Collings said TECT was formed as a consumer trust in 1993 after Tauranga Electric Power Board customers specifically rejected a proposal that it be a charitable trust.
Their letter to TECT's general manager said TECT was established solely for the benefit of electricity users in the former power board area.
The proposed departure placed ''heightened obligations'' to ensure consumers were fully informed about why the proposal was in the best interests of all consumers, they said.
The letter was in response to the current trustees wanting to wind down the TECT cheques, starting with a compensatory $2500 cheque later this year plus five more annual cheques of $360 each.
Current trustees have proposed putting all the annual returns from its Trustpower shares and other investments into the TECT Charitable Trust that was set up in 2002 to ensure the share of money paid to community organisations was not taxed.
The letter from the former trustees said: "Nowhere have you indicated the grounds upon which you consider this proposal to be in the best interests of consumers.''
They said the current trustees had provided no valid reason why doing nothing was no longer an option for TECT.
''TECT has shown a capacity to adapt to meet changed circumstances when necessary,''
''All this, however, is not relevant to your proposal which is that consumers give up their entitlement to future distributions and agreed to the transferring or distributing the bulk of TECT's assets to TECT Charitable Trust.
"Indeed, you say that TECT has no plans to sell its Trustpower holdings. We regret we are left with the impression that the waters have been ... muddied by your statements,'' the letter said.
TECT's current chairman, Bill Holland, responded that under the proposed changes, TECT had no short-term intention to sell down its Trustpower shares. But it could diversify its investment portfolio in the medium to long term, over five to 10 years.
He disagreed that trustees had given no valid reasons for the change. Holland said changes were already under way like solar energy and battery technologies, industry structural changes like takeovers, and regulatory changes like governments intervening in electricity pricing.
''If anyone looks to deny those things, good luck to them,'' he said.
Holland questioned whether reducing the amount of TECT cheques would be the best response to these pressures. ''Or should we be proactive and make changes on our own terms.''
He said the views expressed in the letter were in contrast to two other previous TECT chairpersons, Noel Pope and Jan Beange, who supported the new direction.
Holland said a lot was being made of 55 years left to go for the trust and the size of the offer to consumers.
He said being a TECT consumer was not transferable, and people were only TECT consumers while they were Trustpower customers who lived in the Western Bay. Anything could happen over 55 years - people could die, move away or change their electricity supplier.
Service history of former TECT trustees
- Michael Cooney: TECT chairman who also served on the board of Trustpower. Retired as trustee after 16 years in 2014.
- Bruce Cronin: Deputy chairman and trustee for 20 years to 2016.
- Ken Collings: Chairman of the Audit Committee and trustee for 12 years to 2016.