25 Feb 2014

Warning over power disconnections

1:13 pm on 25 February 2014

The Labour Party says the number of electricity disconnections is rising and it's putting people at risk, but the Electricity Authority is confident no one will be harmed.

The party's energy spokesperson, David Shearer, says the number of disconnections in the third quarter of last year was the highest on record for any quarter.

The authority concedes that electricity suppliers have not always complied with guidelines on vulnerable families and people reliant on electricity for medical reasons.

The guidelines were put in place after the death of an Auckland woman, Folole Muliaga, in 2007. Her automated oxygen stopped when her power was disconnected.

Authority chief executive Carl Hansen says most companies are now complying with the guidelines but Mr Shearer says more than 40-thousand people had their power disconnected last year and their health could be at risk.

He says the authority needs to do more for consumers - "particularly those consumers who are medically dependent, or people on low incomes."

Mr Shearer says the guidelines need to be replaced by an enforceable mandatory code.