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Celebrating power to the people

The Common Grace Aotearoa network is celebrating a win for electricity users in Aotearoa, after the New Zealand Electricity Authority Te Mana Hiko moved to require power companies to offer better consumer care, especially for people struggling to pay their bills.

Taonga News  |  07 Feb 2024  |

Common Grace Aotearoa, a newly-formed ecumenical network of Christians advocating for fairer, more humane policies in Aotearoa New Zealand, is celebrating an early win for their movement, as the Electricity Authority has announced they will introduce binding rules to protect electricity consumers.

This means for the first time there will be binding rules requiring that companies:
- Do not disconnect people who are medically dependent on power
- Take detailed steps to help customers prevent debt
- Communicate with customers before disconnecting them for non-payment
- Ensure customers are on the right plan for their budget and usage
- Ensure fees are reasonable

“We're delighted to see the Electricity Authority commit to this today. This step forward is the result of collective action. Thanks to everyone who took action.” Common Grace Aotearoa said on Facebook this week.

Te Mana Hiko Authority has made the move by requiring Electricity companies to comply with the Authority's full 35-page set of stringent ‘Consumer Care Guidelines’, which are currently voluntary.

Electricity Authority Chief Executive Sarah Gillies reported she was grateful for the remarkable engagement in the Authority’s deliberations, with over 1000 submissions coming in, including drawings from young children.

“We believe this decision is the best pathway forward to ensure consumers receive a consistent and supportive level of care from their electricity retailer, regardless of who they choose,” she said.

Starting out in 2023, Common Grace Aotearoa began the ‘Everyone Connected’ campaign driven by the principle that it shouldn’t be a privilege to keep the lights on. 

The campaign, launched in August, led to regular meetings between people who had experienced disconnection and community advocates, and to a meeting directly with the Electricity Authority.

The rules will come into effect on 1st January 2025, accompanied by penalties for companies that do not comply.

This change will protect everyone who uses electricity, and especially people at high risk from being disconnected.

Anglicans from the Diocese of Wellington are at the heart of Common Grace Aotearoa and the Diocese is one of the network's official supporters.

Go to the Common Grace Aotearoa website to find out more.