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High-class hookers benefit from AECT dividend spend up

One of the first people to post on the AECT website which asks “How will you spend your dividend?” shared his desire to spend it on a high-class prostitute.  The fact the post was still there after a week may be clever on AECT’s part because it really shows, like the ad campaign claims, that beneficiaries of the trust have the power to spend their dividend exactly as they wish (either that or the moderator of the post is snoozing on the job) . 
 
The majority of posts are heartfelt, touching stories giving genuine thanks to the AECT for the payment. However I can’t help read the stories – many from people who are putting the money into unpaid bills – and think of the woman I met at the Pakuranga Community Network Meeting last week. She was really chuffed about receiving the $320 of “free” money and was making plans to spend it on her family. When I asked her about her energy bills she confessed that she lived in a cold house but didn’t put the heater on all winter because she couldn’t afford the cost. This is an example of energy poverty that it is estimated effects a quarter of Kiwi households. 
 
The $320 dividend comes from AECT’s return on its 75.1% shareholding in Vector which includes a range of commercial businesses, not just the electricity lines business.  The lines charge that consumers pay Vector is only one component of a household’s electricity bill so it is not  just Vector’s pricing that is causing energy poverty. However Vector is part of the electricity industry that prices using variable charging (based on kilowatt hours) that does not encourage efficiencies and keeps prices inflated.  For example, it would be far more sustainable for electricity charges to be based on capacity (also called fixed charging) and for smart meters to be introduced into every home with a range of tariff options to encourage efficient energy use.
 
As a trustee I support the community receiving a dividend from a community energy asset but what I would also like to see is Vector and the AECT being part of the solution to ensure the dividend is not being spent on unaffordable power bills.

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