Scathing report accuses electricity providers of delaying New Zealand's shift to renewable energy

A scathing report accuses electricity providers of delaying the country's shift to renewable energy sources.

The report by unions and a climate action group says the power companies are purposely putting off building key infrastructure so they can keep hiking the cost of power.

A new report by unions is painting a bleak picture for power consumers.

"It means there's no chance in the future we'll be having cheaper power bills or that we'll be able to get rid of coal and gas in our network," researcher Edward Millar said.

The report said power companies are dragging their heels on building infrastructure for renewable energy because that would mean there were more and cheaper options for power available to the market.

"More power stations would prevent the scarcity which is driving the prices up," said Molly Melhuish.

The report argues scarcity driving the wholesale prices up is exactly what the power companies want.

The New Zealand Wind Energy Association said consents for wind farms generating almost 2000 megawatts have been approved but not yet constructed.

And instead of investing their profits into building the new infrastructure, they're giving them to their investors.

"They've decided to payout more than they've earned in profits in excess dividends," Millar said.

Basically between 2014 and 2021, power companies Meridian, Mercury, Genesis and Contact Energy made a profit of $5.3 billion.

But they gave their shareholders even more than that profit - paying them $8.7 billion.

But there's another problem. The power network is supposed to be 98 percent renewable by 2030 in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

"We've lost a decade in terms of building new renewable capacity because we've prioritised paying excess dividends to investing in new capacity," Millar said.

So new priorities are needed, with power bill-paying punters and the planet at the top of the list.