More relief for Waikato residents’ power bills

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Waikato lines provider WEL Networks will reduce the cost of delivering power to local households for the second year in a row.

Last year the company reduced its residential lines charges by $6 million, providing an average saving of $77 to residents, with an additional average reduction of $70 forecast for the year ahead. This complements a move to provide $20 million annually to be invested into the community via shareholders WEL Energy Trust.

Chief executive Garth Dibley says the reduced tariffs and increased community investment follow the end of the electricity discount programme in 2018, and is a fairer way of distributing funds.

“We’re working towards creating an innovative energy future, which includes constantly reviewing how we can deliver cheaper energy prices and provide greater returns to our customers. We’re also fully supportive of our shareholder WEL Energy Trust’s strong focus on social investments which will benefit the Waikato region.”

Lines charges make up approximately 25 percent of a household electricity bill and are charged via retailers, based on each customer’s usage.

WEL Networks also welcomed the Electricity Price Review options paper, released in February.

Dibley says the company is pleased to see that consumer advocacy, fairness and reducing energy hardship were core themes.

“Hardship is a nationwide problem and a reality in our own backyard, so it’s important that we support any action which will help improve the health and wellbeing of our consumers.”

He says one option favoured by the panel and supported by WEL was a push to look at community-based programmes which would improve energy efficiency.

“The Trust has delivered various energy efficiency and breathe-easy programmes, including installing heat pumps, insulating electric water heaters, replacing fluorescent lights and an energy efficiency homes retrofit project that ran for several years primarily for customers with a community services card. Our staff play an important role in these programmes, completing the installations or assessments on behalf of the Trust.”

He said WEL is supportive of any measures taken to improve the fairness and transparency of the electricity market for consumers, including a distribution pricing reform where prices more closely align to costs and customers benefit from efficient investment in new technologies.

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