Lose our assets, get higher power prices

Written By: - Date published: 1:41 pm, June 20th, 2012 - 48 comments
Categories: energy, privatisation - Tags:

Full data set

It’s pretty straightforward: private investors have a higher cost of capital so they need bigger profits? How do you make bigger profits in the electricity game when all your capital costs are fixed and your fuel is either free or internationally priced? By charging more.

So, what happens when you introduce private shareholders’ profit needs to the public power companies?

48 comments on “Lose our assets, get higher power prices”

  1. grumpy 1

    Link doesn’t work………….

  2. Lanthanide 2

    Still more deceptive graphs where the vertical axis doesn’t start at 0. The graph shown has the private bar 60% taller than the public bar, but the text says it’s only a 12% difference. This is misleading.

    • fatty 2.1

      The graph clearly starts at 20, and both bars are clearly labelled with their totals.
      Private is 3.05 cents more expensive. Its not supposed to tell the complete truth in all its entirety, its a political advert, not a scientific article in a peer reviewed journal.
      The greens are probably assuming that their potential voters can read words and numbers.

      • Lanthanide 2.1.1

        It doesn’t matter if it says that it starts at 20 or not, it is still misleading because it is giving a visual impression that does not match the text.

        This is what they call “lies, damn lies, and statistics”.

        What would you say if they put up the same graph but the lowest axis value was instead 25 and the top was 29? Then we’d have a tiny little snub on the left and a huge towering block on the right? Or that wouldn’t matter because the numbers would be clearly shown on the axis? Or what about if we had the axis going from 0 to 150, so each bar was a tiny little blip and you couldn’t distinguish between them?

        The principal is: don’t lie or distort the truth with your graphs. I don’t like it when National does it. I don’t like it when the Greens do it. No one should do it.

        • quartz

          Labour hack.

          • Colonial Viper

            I’m wondering if you read the last sentence where Lanth says he dislikes any party using misleading graphs?

            • quartz

              The labour hack wouldn’t have said a word if it was David Shearer’s idea. Or would have said it was the bestest thing in the whole wide world. But you’re a Labour hack too so I don’t expect you to get it.

              • Te Reo Putake

                Behold the intellectual majesty of the right wing thinker, CV. He’s got you dead to rights, you unrepentant Labour hack, you. That’s what you get for those hundreds of comments slavishly applauding everything Labour does, comrade. Same with Lanth, whose obvious desire to eingratiate himself at David Shearer’s feet has now been rightfully exposed. Shame! Shame on you both!
                Thankfully, I’m not a Labour hack or else quartz would be turning his baleful gaze my way too. Oh, wait ….

        • fatty

          I see what you’re saying, but I don’t see it as any worse than than other political billboards. Labour and Nats pretend they care about people…if you wanted truth from them, the Nats would proclaim they want to shift money to the privileged. Labour’s would say they are blinded by a neoliberal ideology and will give us a soft national.
          What about the $275 per year saving for the average family? What’s an average family? Where do they live? Are they all able bodied? What kind of heating do they use? What kind of insulation do they have? Are there grandparents in the house, or sick people…etc, etc.
          Where is the reference for the ministry of development statistics? Who collected these ‘average’ prices? What statistical measurements were used? etc etc.
          Its just statistics and a graph on a sign…take it or leave it.

          “don’t lie or distort the truth with your graphs”

          I don’t even believe that stats and a graph can show ‘the’ truth…they can show ‘a’ thruth…that is all the greens have done.
          And its a political poster, John Key claims a brighter future…and I remember a Helen Clark poster claim a proven leadership record…can you believe that? Nine years of cementing neoliberalism.

  3. fender 3

    When Minister for Everything Steven Joyce gets going he will shut down this transparency into relevent figures.


    (Holding John Banks’ ‘feet to the fire’ ).

    “20 June 2012


    “Have you, John Banks, yet been questioned by Police regarding your alleged electoral fraud – yes or no?”

    Penny Bright, ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’

    Dear John,

    The passing of the Mixed Ownership Model Bill is dependent on YOUR pivotal vote.

    Have the Police yet interviewed/ questioned you about alleged electoral fraud, as outlined in the following complaints,
    (re: Police File 120427/9334)

    YES or NO?

    Yours sincerely,

    Penny Bright
    ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’


    ( Copies of the above-mentioned complaints to the Police are available for perusal on http://www.dodgyjohnhasgone.com )

  5. Dv 5

    I think I just heard Peter Dunne say that the INCREASE in taxes will pay for the short fall in the income from the power stations.


  6. BLiP 6


    So, what happens when you introduce private shareholders’ profit needs to the public power companies?

    Oooh, oooh, oooh, I know.

    First, the price of electricity goes up, any land, buildings, and other tangible assets not nailed down are sold cheap to mates, while small shareholders are picked off one by one with apparently profitable offers for their shares. Next, the private shareholder’s gang up on and/or otherwise usurp the public representation and issue massive new share floats which, to maintain its 51% shareholding, the government has to start giving back the money it received in the first place. Gradually rising, over a couple of years as the mums and dads are bought off, 49% of all the money New Zealanders spend on electricity goes off shore for the next 25 years. That 49% figure may well rise to 100% if the government can’t afford to keep up with the new share issues and/or breaks promises (a given under National Ltd™, of course). Throughout this 25 year period, there is zero transperancy and even less accountability, National Ltd™ having already dispensed with the pesky task of regulations and enforcement even though New Zealanders are guaranteeing the whole deal. The money paid by New Zealanders for their electricity wends its way back into the country (the ticket getting clipped at every chance by banksters like John Key) to fund the borrowing required to maintain the tax cuts for the rich. The interest rates on the borrowing rises because the country has less material wealth to leverage. When what ever is left of the workforce, physical assets and related infrastructure is run into the ground, the government steps in and starts buying them all back at greatly inflated prices because TINA.

    Sovereign State Looting 101.

    • Clashman 6.1

      You forgot about not doing any upkeep on the infrastructure and when its about to crash getting the tax payer to pay for it.

      • Foreign Waka 6.1.1

        Yes, and draining the water lakes to its maximum. Don’t see – don’t care kinda thing.

    • Foreign Waka 6.2

      I think this would look more like treason to me.

  7. It’s almost certain power prices will go up.

    Like they have been for all of this century, by an average of 8% a year. What’s more important is if reliable power supply will be maintained, and if price increases will be contained to a reasonable level.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 7.1

      Do you honestly believe that anyone is paying attention to what you think is “important”?

      What is the point of the oxygen you consume? Have you anything to offer on any subject other than weaselly wiffly waffle?

      • Gosman 7.1.1

        Ironic given your completely off the wall little rant immediately below. You do provide me with amusement at least so I suppose you have a purpose.

  8. Kotahi Tane Huna 8

    It’s time to abandon the whole failed experiment. Return all large-scale electricity generation to public ownership and manage the grid as a public good.

    I would also like to see harsh punitive measures against the fifth columnists who promoted the lies in the first place, just in case anyone thinks my first paragraph is a little extreme. At the very least manslaughter charges for the extra deaths caused over the last fourteen years.

    • Gosman 8.1

      Or perhaps re-education camps where they can be forced to recant and express sorrow for the errors of the past.

      I wonder if any serious political party will take you up on your first suggestion. No on second thoughts I don’t wonder that because they are not that crazy.

      • Kotahi Tane Huna 8.1.1

        If you say so. The fact is we’re paying 12% more for electricity than we need to. That money could be sloshing around in the retail sector, or being invested in some start-up business, but instead a large portion of it goes offshore.

        As for Winter deaths, for example you might argue that Parliament, and by proxy the electors, made the decision, but we have seen public submissions on the recent theft be ignored and submitters openly insulted and worse by select committee members.

        Democracy works best, Gosman, where ideas are allowed to compete. A mandate to govern doesn’t mean do as you please, and while Charles I lost his head, I am only suggesting jail time.

        • Gosman

          ‘12% more than we need to’ – This is based on what, your view that leaving the Electricity industry as it was in the mid 1980’s would have led to cheaper power for all?

          • Kotahi Tane Huna

            Maybe if you read the post at the top of the page, you would know that the figures come from the MED.

            • Gosman

              I’m sorry but all that suggests is that at one point in time the average price difference supplied by private and public owned electricty companies is 12%. Considering the Privately owned companies have less than 50% of the market that would suggest only a minority of people are paying the higher price. So the point being made is entirely bogus.

              • Kotahi Tane Huna

                “…at one point in time…”

                Says who?

                Did you even look at the data set? It goes back to 2001 and is updated quarterly.

                That was particularly light and transparent even for you Gossamer.

  9. vto 9

    Yesterday I asked what the benefits to selling the electricity companies were and got two responses. One saying immediate cashflow to the government, and another going on about how good it would be for the purchasers,

    So that seems to be it.


    Deceptive lying muppets.

    • Gosman 9.1

      No, you also have less potential for poliutical interference in the electricity industry, (we see this in all the pathetic left wing whining here about how we pay too much for our power), and also invigorating the Share market to provide attractive non-property investment opportunities.

      • Bored 9.1.1

        Gos, Traceys point below just about sums it up. Having read pretty much the whole debate it is fairly obvious to me that very few people including yourself have actually understood the whole asset sales saga as rent seeking behavior.

        I hope you have read the classical economists such as Adam Smith on this (most people claiming association with Smith have never read him and it shows). Economist right through to anybody prior to neo libs are in general agreement that rent seeking behavior is bad for an economy. It merely transfers profit to rentiers who are adding more cost than value simply because of a monopoly position. Capitalists and consumers pay the cost elsewhere, it impacts profitability etc.

        I personally think private rentiers far more corrosive than public rentiers, I cant vote private rentiers out of office. Private parasites versus public parasites? Your choice, I know who I prefer.

        • Gosman

          I reject your proposition that Electricity companies are monopoly companies where the owners are rentiers. The fact that the industry is looking to undergo a massive change as a result of a move towards less carbon intensive methods is something I’d suggest Monopoly’s don’t handle very well at all.

          • Bored

            Gos, I wonder if you have ever really been in business? Do you run a general ledger and have access to what your costs are? Or do you take it from a theoretical angle?

            What you realize over time is that economics and business are totally separate things, and when it comes to real world transactions economists know jack shit. You do not have to be from Left or Right to realize those who can do commerce, those who cannot become economists.

            So from a buyers perspective, a monopoly is something (a company OR an industry sector). Minor fiddling within profit margins by NZ power companies to maximise their returns by offering better pricing does not constitute a market….there is insufficient elastic capacity here for that scenario to have anything but minor influence over pricing. In short price discovery in our power sector is highly controlled and suspect.

            May not meet and econoparrots purist definition of a monopoly but sure feels like one if you pay the bill. These buggers are parasites on my business, my customers businesses, and all our households.

            • Gosman

              By that definition you could argue that any industry that is used as an input into a business could be classified as a monopoly business.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Go read Steve Keen – he maintains, and has the proof, that monopolies operate no differently than other firms – they just don’t have the competitive force driving profit down and so a private monopoly will price gouge. A state monopoly run as a service is open to public scrutiny and so has to keep it’s pricing down, effectively it could be run as if it’s in a perfect market.

              • Colonial Viper

                effectively it could be run as if it’s in a perfect market.


                And it has way more freedom to make good long term decisions because it does not have to respond to the short term (quarterly and annual) profit motive.

                As in any organisation however, excellent driven leadership is key.

          • Draco T Bastard

            I reject your proposition that Electricity companies are monopoly companies where the owners are rentiers.

            How do you figure that one out? Sure, there can be multiple generators but when all the generating capacity is being used then it doesn’t make any difference.

            The fact that the industry is looking to undergo a massive change as a result of a move towards less carbon intensive methods is something I’d suggest Monopoly’s don’t handle very well at all.

            You have NFI WTF you’re talking about do you? Monopolies are actually in a better position to change due to the fact that they’re monopolies. State monopolies can do it even better as they can get full support from the people to make that change while private monopolies will have to try and get funding from a few rich people who will want more than they put in back (a dead weight loss).

      • vto 9.1.2

        “less potential for poliutical interference in the electricity industry,”

        Not at all, how does that follow? Where has the political interference been recently? Next.

        “and also invigorating the Share market to provide attractive non-property investment opportunities.”

        This one really makes me laugh ha ha ha. The almighty and powerful free market which provides al things good cannot invigorate itself, despite being around for decades and decades, and it need government welfare and assistance to give it a hand along. What’s the matter gosman? In the first part you say yay get rid of the public sector and in the second part you say yay get some help from the public sector. What a frikking joke. Invigorate your own bloody market yourself – don’t ask me to pay for you and your silly NZX. If the NZX can’t operate without social welfare then it should shut up shop and declare itself a failure.

        If this is a reason for selling our electricity companies then it is complete and utter bullshit. Fuck off and take your NZX with you (not meant personally mr gos). NZX is privately owned – ask the owners why it isn’t working. Ask the owners to invigorate it. Bloody pathetic scammers and scroungers.

        You see this is at the very heart of the bullshit that is these sales. You, the free market private sector always wails about wanting to be left alone, but the honest fact is that you lot simply cannot operate without the public sector. You never have. You take take take that is all.

        Fuck off.

        (all that directed not at you personally gosman)

        • Gosman

          As stated all this whining from people on the left about the price of electricity is suggestive of the potential for political interference in the setting of electricity prices. All it would take is a centralised energy sector and a populist Government trying to curry favour with a section of Society. What was NZ First recently stating about pricing for elderly people again?

          You second point ignores the distorting effect of the Government sector on the private sector. It is one of the reasons Right Wing people prefer to see the Government sector not grow beyond a certain size in the economy. If Government takes up a large percentage of investment opportunities there are less options for Private investors.

          • vto

            Your first paragraph ignored the question – when was the last time there was political interference in the electricity sector?

            Your second paragraph also ignored my point about the private sector. Get your own bloody investments. After all, the right wing always goes on about how it is supposedly so good at making money and profits and enterprise and blah blah bullshit. So go and do it. Build and sell your own bloody power companies. Do it yourself. But you can’t can you, and this proves it.

            Useless bludgers.

            • Gosman

              Both of those are just personal objections to the points I raised. You are entitled to your opinions but it doesn’t detract from the fact their are additional potential benefits from what you suggest. Just because you personally don’t regard them as important is irrelevant.

              • vto

                sheesh gosman that’s pathetic. perhaps it is my points which are fact and yours which are just opinion.

                I’ll try once more…
                When was the last time there was political interference in the electricity sector?
                Why does the NZX need government assistance?
                Why should the taxpayer provide additional support for the NZX and its participants?

                You suggested two benefits to selling the electricity companies and I am trying to examine their worth by asking questions around them. Come on, defend your claims.

            • insider

              If you don’t think there is political interference in the electricity sector I suggest you go read the GPS on electricity governance – its about a 30 page govt wish list. Also see the senior political appointees to the electricty regulator and boards of operators. The industry has long been highly politicised. It used to be local meds who bought off voters with cheap prices subsidised by business. There is still a little of that around with lines companies overcharging then showing how nice they are with end of year rebates.

  10. tracey 10

    Private or publuc ownership we pay more. But public ownership gives us dividends. Private sees dividends going offshore.

    • Rob 10.1

      Not off shore for me, into my bank account sweetie.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        I’d be reassured it you were buying a million or more of the shares on offer. Then what you do as an individual might actually make some difference.

        Say, would you care to sign a pledge not to on-sell your shares for the next 10 years?

      • fender 10.1.2

        And from your bank account straight back to the power company due to higher charges, but at least you will be one of the lucky ones to get subsidised power because you have the thousand dollars needed to participate.

        Or the shares end up overseas should you hit hard times and need to sell them.

  11. Swan 11

    I guess the question is: what are the private companies doing so well that they can charge more than the public companies and still retain their customers?

    It is an open secret that the public companies run an artificially low rate of return because of a lack of governance/ a lack of stomach for price increases from the shareholder.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      Or maybe its because public companies still have a sense of service to society?

      I suppose you live in a world where “profit maximisation” is worshipped as a holy grail, but there’s naught holy about that outlook.

      Oh and when you talk about a “rate of return” I suppose you are focussing on the returns to a small group of private shareholders as opposed to society at large?

      That would be typical of the profit seeking capitalist viewpoint.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.2

      I guess the question is: what are the private companies doing so well that they can charge more than the public companies and still retain their customers?

      Oh, probably the fact that we can’t choose not to use them.

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