A fund to support community-based power saving and energy projects is being proposed by the left-leaning Powerlynk ticket contesting the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust elections.

The fund would reduce the annual dividend to about 290,000 power consumers, but Powerlynk candidate and current trustee Shale Chambers said it would remain above $300.

Last month, the trust dished out $320 to each power consumer throughout Auckland and Manukau cities and the northern part of Papakura from a $99 million dividend from the giant power company Vector.

Voting papers started arriving in letterboxes yesterday to elect five trustees to oversee a 75.1 per cent shareholding in Vector.

There are 16 candidates contesting the election. The right-leaning ticket, Citizens & Ratepayers, and Powerlynk each have a full ticket of five candidates. Former trust member and National Party president John Collinge is standing under the Just Power - No Politics ticket with two other candidates. There are three independent candidates, Pippa Coom, Roger Mail and Robyn Montgomery.

Voting closes on October 30. The last election in 2006 attracted a 19.9 per cent voter turnout, which is similar to previous elections going back to when the trust was established in 1993.

Mr Chambers said Powerlynk would establish the PowerUp Auckland Fund to support families, community groups, schools, libraries, public swimming pools and sports clubs in the trust area with power savings and generation projects. It would help with insulation, solar power, efficient heating, hot water and small wind turbines.

He said the trust would consult consumers on the fund, which had the potential to start with 5 per cent, or about $5 million, of the current $99 million dividend from Vector. Powerlynk would keep the annual payment to consumers above $320, he said.

Warren Kyd, who leads the C&R ticket and chairs the trust, said the community fund was a chaotic and ill thought-out plan. The dividend belonged to consumers, not other people, and would require administrative staff and could become the main business of the trust, he said.

Mr Kyd and another C&R candidate and trustee, Karen Sherry, said the trust was a consumer trust, not a charitable trust, saying it would take a unanimous vote of the trust to change the deed and it could be illegal anyway.

Mr Chambers said it would take a majority decision of the trust to seek court approval to change the trust deed to establish the community fund.

Mr Kyd, whose ticket has four of the five current seats on the trust, said C&R was intent on looking after the interests of consumer beneficiaries.

Mr Kyd, who voted to sell 24.9 per cent of Vector in July 2005, said C&R had kept its promise from the last election to retain the trust's 75.1 per cent stake and promised the same at this election.

C&R has also kept its 2006 promise to increase dividends, if only by 3 per cent from $310 to $320.

Mr Kyd has seen his remuneration increased from $81,000 in 2006-2007 to $91,000 in 2007-2008 and said he knew of no increase for trustees for 2008-2009 beyond some adjustment for work on one extra committee.

Fees for the 2007-2008 year range from $63,000 to $129,000 for Mr Chambers and $139,000 for Ms Sherry, both of whom also sit on the Vector board.

Former trustee John Collinge is having another crack at getting back on the trust after his Just Power ticket bombed in 2006.

Mr Collinge has set up another ticket, Just Power - No Politics, with two other candidates: John Coutts and Philip Blain. The ticket wants to oust party politics from the trust and is critical of trustees becoming directors of Vector, even though Mr Collinge served on the board when a trustee.

Pippa Coom is a lawyer who has worked for Vector and wants to ensure the trust's asset is managed sustainably. Roger Mail is a chef tutor who is bewildered at the cost of electricity. Robyn Montgomery is a semi-retired businesswoman who believes she can bring a non-political agenda to the trust.

Further information on the web about the elections and the tickets at: www.aect.co.nz, www.justpower.org.nz, www.candr.org.nz, www.powerlynk.org.nz.