Labour/Green Power Plan – “Crazy”

The CEO of Contact Energy has labelled the Green/Labour power policy “crazy”.

If Labour and the Greens imposed their proposed power policy Contact Energy would be forced into a complete restructure, chief executive Dennis Barnes says.

Earlier this year, the parties announced plans to set up a single buyer, NZ Power, to buy all electricity generation at a fair price, promising to cut the average New Zealander’s power bill by up to $330 a year.

Speaking to The Press after the company’s annual meeting in Christchurch today, Barnes said the policy would require a structural change for Contact’s business and the electricity industry. 

It would “change the face of Contact from a risk manager and a retailer to a business which has got the Government as its customer”, he said.

“It’s likely that a lot of the people we have working in the risk aspects of our business wouldn’t be needed anymore. I believe that innovation would stop and the Government would have to fund that.

“The biggest change is that the Government then becomes responsible for security of supply development of the industry rather than the market; that’s a whole different dynamic.”

Barnes indicated that power price increases in the last couple of years did not come from generators and retailers such as Contact Energy.

“A lot of the prices increases that you experience as a whole are transmission and distribution and charges that the generators and the retailers are not responsible for.”

He denied Contact was making a super profit.

“Contact is a reasonably performing business, and since we listed, our total shareholder return has only been 7.7 per cent a year, which is lower than the sharemarket average.”

During the meeting, a shareholder asked how likely it was that the Labour and the Greens might impose what Barnes described as a “crazy plan“.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

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