Media release – immediate circulation
25 November 2020
The Lines Company and WESCT to return $3.8M to customers over the next year
The Lines Company (TLC), alongside its 100% shareholder Waitomo Energy Services Customer Trust (WESCT), is returning $3.8 million to its 9,000 local customers, split between two discounts in December 2020 and May 2021.
Peter Keeling, Chair of WESCT, says the December discount will reflect the seven-month period from 1 April to 31 October 2020, while the May discount is for the five months from 1 November 2020 to the end of March 2021.
“Splitting the discount payment means people receive a nice bonus in time for Christmas and then a second one next May, which will help in preparing for upcoming winter bills.”
The total discount of $3.8 million which TLC is passing on to customers this financial year is lower than the $5.6 million returned last December. This is largely because of a Commerce Commission ruling in late 2019, which significantly reduced the amount of revenue most electricity distributors, including TLC, can earn from their networks. TLC has replaced some this reduced revenue with higher profitability from its subsidiary FCL Metering Ltd.
The Commerce Commission ruling resulted in TLC reducing its charges to all customers from April 2020, which in turn reduced the amount of revenue TLC has available to return to WESCT customers in discounts, says Mr Keeling.
“The Trust is focused on providing high value back to WESCT customers, but it’s also about finding a balance with the other very important obligations TLC has, such as investing in the network to improve safety and reliability for all its customers.”
However, when the total value to customers of this year’s price reduction is considered alongside the discount amount, this represents a significant sum of money being returned to WESCT customers this financial year, and the overall result is similar to previous years, Mr Keeling says.
“While the value to each customer of the discount and the reduced charges of course depends on how much energy has been used, we are extremely proud to be able to return this money to our customers here in the community – where it can be used for their benefit.”
With the community recently having voted to keep TLC under WESCT ownership, discounts and other benefits can continue to be passed on to customers.
“The upcoming discounts that customers are receiving are a direct result of the fact that TLC remains in community ownership via WESCT on behalf of the people in our community.
“Regular discounts to customers are just one benefit of community ownership of TLC, alongside local control of energy infrastructure and services as well as jobs for people in the community.”
If TLC was not owned by WESCT, there would be no requirement for TLC to return its profits back to customers, Mr Keeling says.
“We’re immensely proud to have returned well over $30 million to local people in the form of discounts and dividends over the past six years and we look forward to continuing to operate as a diligent shareholder of TLC for the benefit of the entire community.”