Consumer advocacy chair mystified some key recommendations in 4-year-old electricity price review still not implemented

The consumer advocacy chair says it's "mystifying" that some key recommendations made in the electricity price review four years ago have still not been implemented.

It's been four years since the review, which made 33 recommendations, was delivered to the Government.

Consumer advocacy chair Deborah Hart said many of the recommendations have been enforced, but "some of the key recommendations have yet to be implemented".

"It's mystifying actually to know why, for instance, the consumer care guidelines, which were designed after the electricity price review, are not mandatory."

Hart told AM consumer care guidelines would give some of Aotearoa's most vulnerable Kiwis and all Kiwis basic consumer protections.

"The electricity price review said there should be mandatory protections for our most vulnerable consumers. But as I say, it would have a great byproduct for us all."

She told AM the protections will require electricity retailers to tell their customers how and when they'll be disconnected if the customer can't pay their bill.

"Things like making retailers tell you that you're on the best plan for your household, an obligation to do that. How medically dependent consumers will be served so that their electricity doesn't get cut off."

She said these situations "affect our most vulnerable, but they affect all of us" too.

Hart said the Electricity Authority found in May not all electricity retailers were abiding by the guidelines they helped create. As a result, she said the authority has to amend its code.

The authority plans to release a paper in September where submissions can be made on the code. But Hart wants to see some speed.

"It really does need to move with some speed to implement mandatory standards for basic consumer protections around electricity," Hart told AM.

"It has to provide enforcement. It has to audit what's happening properly, not a self-assessment like what happens under the [current] guidelines. And there has to be penalties for non-compliance".

Hart wants to see the process fast-tracked and get the Electricity Authority to "move with as much speed as possible".

"To put in place mandatory standards to protect all consumers, but particularly those who are vulnerable."

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