There are fresh calls for an investigation into Tauranga's electricity market following a national review of power prices, revealing the region has the least competitive power market in the country.
The Electricity Price Review found the TECT and Trustpower rebate cheque arrangement in Tauranga reduced competition suggested it may be a matter for the Commerce Commission to look into.
The 2018/2019 Electricity Price Review aimed to investigate whether the electricity market was delivering a fair price to consumers.
"We note that if these arrangements are reducing competition ... this may be a matter the Commerce Commission should investigate," the review's findings stated.
The latest data from the Electricity Authority identified Tauranga consumers as having the highest potential savings in New Zealand in 2017, with an average of $443.43 potential savings per consumer.
Whakamārama resident David Riley made submissions to the review and said it had long been argued that the TECT rebate arrangement significantly benefited Trustpower while discouraging other electricity suppliers and healthy competition.
Riley said he believed Trustpower should not be involved in the distribution of the rebate cheque as TECT was a "community-owned asset" and that every power account holder should receive a share of the TECT rebate.
Riley, a Trustpower customer and shareholder, said he held no stake in another power company.
The rebate given to Trustpower customers did not result in any actual savings, either, he said.
A Trustpower spokesperson said it noted the review's findings commented on the Trustpower and TECT relationship and competition levels in Tauranga.
"Some submitters were probably unaware that this matter has previously been considered by the Commerce Commission which concluded that there was no effect of substantially lessening competition," the spokesperson said.
"The trust is an independent consumer entity set up to own the shares of Trustpower and distribute these funds to beneficiaries."
Beneficiaries were eligible Trustpower customers who live in a qualifying area and had an account for a certain time.
About two-thirds of Tauranga residents were Trustpower customers.
TECT general manager Wayne Werder said it was aware of "observations relating to the relationship between Trustpower and TECT". The board was considering comments regarding competitiveness and was "undertaking its own work to better understand the issue".
The commission received complaints about TECT's dividend payments to Trustpower customers in 2012 and 2017, which were not pursued further.
A Commerce Commission spokesperson said it was making inquiries but would not comment further.
Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Diane Bruin advised power consumers to go to Consumer PowerSwitch and check which provider was the most cost-effective.
Annual savings, not a rebate cheque offered at the end of the year, should be considered when choosing a power company, said Bruin.
Spokespersons for Meridian, Genesis and Mercury all supported measures that would improve competition and make the system fairer.