TECT trustees have withdrawn a controversial proposal to end the distribution of the TECT cheque and put all the money into community projects after failing to win enough support for the plan.
The decision was made after a consultation process on the proposal, which sought to make a huge change to how the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust (TECT) distributed its $30 million annual income.
The deal to end payments at the end of 2022 would have seen each Trustpower consumer receive a one-off compensatory cheque worth $2500 later this year plus a further five annual TECT cheques worth $360 each.
TECT chairman Bill Holland said although one-third of written submitters supported the proposal, the majority were opposed with many providing suggestions about other alternatives.
"The trustees are unanimous that the representation from consumers is to withdraw the proposal rather than taking it to a referendum."
TECT chairman Bill Holland said the trustees had maintained throughout this process that the wishes of consumers would remain at the heart of their decision-making.
"The consumers have clearly spoken," he said.
The discussions at four information sessions on the plan, as well as the feedback from the 21,000 written submissions and four days of oral hearings from about 130 individuals, showed there was immense passion within the community for the trust, Mr Holland said.
The trustees would work through the feedback and suggestions and would analyse the content of submissions to ensure good ideas were captured to benefit the long-term future of the trust.
"This feedback will provide valuable information that will inform TECT's future planning. We also intend to communicate our findings with consumers once we have had time to work through the large amount of feedback," he said.
"The debate became a philosophical one between those who want to keep the status quo, where individuals receive a cheque and those who wanted to take the compensation offered and see the trust evolve into one that could help Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty communities for generations to come.
"There were a lot of complex questions because this was a complex matter. This was never going to be an easy discussion but we felt it was a discussion the public deserved to have."
The submissions showed several themes starting to emerge which the trustees felt needed to be addressed.
"This was always intended to be a discussion and that's what we've had. It has been extremely useful for us (and future trustees) to have access to this sort of feedback. That's our job as trustees."
TECT trustees will release a 2018 distribution plan for consumer comment in the coming weeks which will outline the proposed amount of the TECT cheque distribution for November 2018 and the funds available for community organisations.
"Consumers should anticipate a distribution plan that looks very similar to that from 2017," Mr Holland said.