12 Dec 2014

Push for change in Vector ownership

5:10 am on 12 December 2014

An Auckland business group is rallying support for a council takeover of a community trust's stake in the electricity lines company Vector.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association wants the $105 million annual dividend to help pay for transport projects in the city.

EMA chief executive Kim Campbell.

EMA chief executive Kim Campbell. Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

The EMA will meet Auckland sector groups next Wednesday to look at a possible campaign for the winding up of the Auckland Energy Consumers Trust.

The trust was formed 20 years ago to take over the assets of the former Auckland Electric Power Board (AEPB) during government-driven reform of the electricity sector.

AECT now owns a 75 percent stake in Auckland region lines company Vector and distributes its share of the dividends to more than 300,000 households in the central and southern suburbs. The dividend is a little over $300 per consumer.

Former National Party President John Collinge wants the 75 percent Vector shareholding switched to Auckland Council ownership.

John Collinge Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

A low-level campaign had been started by figures including former National Party presidents Michelle Boag and John Collinge, who is also a former AEPB chair.

The EMA meeting next Wednesday is the first public sign of a step-up by those wanting to end the life of the AECT, which under legislation is due to run until 2073.

Nine groups have been invited: the Chamber of Commerce, the Auckland Business Forum, the Council for Infrastructure Development, Automobile Association, National Road Carriers, Committee for Auckland, Campaign for Better Transport,the Property Council and the Contractors Federation.

Mayor Len Brown is keeping out of the debate, saying he will leave it up to the community to decide.

Any change to the trust would need new legislation. Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges says the Government is neutral, but would expect at least a referendum in Auckland before it would look at the issue.