5 Feb 2014

Central power buyer idea not liked

12:23 pm on 5 February 2014

Electricity Authority chair Brent Layton has stopped short of calling a proposed policy by Opposition parties for a central power buying agency as silly, saying instead it is not in the long-term benefit for consumers.

He was speaking at a briefing for the authority's latest release of analysis which shows strong competition in the retail electricity market has forced retailers to absorb cost increases rather than pass it on fully to customers.

Last week, the EA released a report which it said shows households have in fact been undercharged for electricity over the last 30 years.

The authority says the report was done partly in response to claims by economics lecturer Geoff Bertram contrary to that.

Criticism has since been levelled at the report.

When asked twice on Wednesday if he thought the Labour-Greens policy of a central power buying agency was silly, Dr Layton said this:

''I think it's a policy that's not to the benefit of consumers.''

The Electricity Authority, whose role is to promote competition in the market for the long-term benefit of consumers, says new analysis shows electricity retailers costs increased 21.5 percent over the last three years, whereas prices charged to customers over the same period went up by 12.5 percent.