Media Release: Voters not aware of their valuable asset

Only 21% of eligible voters cast their votes in the last election for the trustees of the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust in 2006.  This low turnout is surprising because the asset of the Trust is worth approximately $1.5 billion – a 75.1% holding in Vector Ltd. The Trust received a $98 million dividend from its shareholding in Vector.  The low turnout is because power bill holders are unaware of the fact they are beneficiaries of the Trust and the important role that the trustees play in managing such a sizeable asset on behalf of electricity consumers. 
Voting papers will be arriving in mail boxes in the Trust district from Friday 16 October and independent candidate, Ms Coom is taking steps to ensure that voters know about the election by visiting all of the super city–sized voting district over the next two weeks.
“It’s always harder for an independent to get elected but I think it is worthwhile getting out there so that voters know about their Trust, their ownership of a valuable and essential power asset as well as their option to vote for a credible, community focused, non-political candidate as one of the five Trustees” said Ms Coom, a corporate lawyer, most recently at Vector Ltd.   “Quite frankly, I have no idea why the political parties are so involved in these kinds of elections – especially for a non-political issue such as electricity supply.  I would have thought the main criteria for elect-ability was competence to address relevant issues rather than association with voting blocs” she said.
Trust beneficiaries have recently been paid a dividend of $320 by the Trust but the majority are still confused about where it comes from. Common misconceptions are that the money is paid by retail companies, the defunct power board or even one of the party tickets.
 “We are entering a unique period in Auckland’s governance history with the implementation of the super city structure.  I think it is vitally important that Auckland’s energy consumers have someone on the board of trustees who is able to think about what is best for their interests without having to follow party allegiances” said Ms Coom.

Trustee fees excessive: what price community service?

Annual fees for the chair of the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust have increased 300% over a 5 year period to 2007/08. The current chair enjoys fees of $91,000 up from $30,000 in 2003.  Fees for other Trustees range from $63,000 to $139,000 for a Trustee who is also on the Vector board.  Details of fees for 2008/09 will be available in the Trust’s annual report due out later this month.  Recently in the Herald the Chair has claimed that there is unlikely to be any variation to the fees  but fails to acknowledge that current fees are excessive nor does he raise the possibility that fees should be rolled back.

 The Trust needs to attract people with the skills and experience to make decisions in the interests of over 300,000 beneficiaries.  A payment to the trustees is reasonable for their time and commitment however it is a part time role on a community trust.  The trustees must be willing to serve on the Trust and in recognition of this service accept a level of fees which will not be considered by the community to be excessive or greedy.

Social media will put community into the Trust

It is a challenge for an independent candidate to take part in the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust election for 5 new  trustees. The vote is held every three years.  Over 300,000 beneficiaries of the Trust can vote, and the Trust area is huge, (covering all of Auckland City, Manukau City, parts of Papakura and Waiheke Island).

Traditional methods of electioneering are impractical and expensive. Sending a flyer to every household would cost tens of thousands of dollars, and it would be mission impossible to try to face contact with all voters.  It gives a taste of what it will be like for the mayoral candidates campaigning in the Super City elections next year, as this will cover an even bigger area.

Luckily the internet and social media are powerful and inexpensive tools that give an independent candidate like me a chance in the election. They also  put community into the Trust.

I am learning that one long- standing method of campaigning – via billboards – is worthwhile, as Aucklanders spend a lot of time in their cars. From the feedback my small but stylish billboards, which started going up over the weekend, are being noticed. I just hope the saboteurs who have taken one out in a more affluent part of Auckland are not planning on striking again.  It puts extra pressure on an already hard working and loyal election team who are spending many hours out in the rain to give me a chance with the big teams.

Feel free to text me if you have a good site for one of my billboards!

Media Release: Style and substance join otherwise dreary election campaign

Over the last couple of weeks Aucklanders have been experiencing a higher level of visual pollution than normal due to the billboards erected by the two party tickets – PowerLynk and Citizens & Ratepayers – standing in the election of 5 trustees to the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust.

Independent candidate Pippa Coom’s billboards, which started going up today, have brought about a welcome relief to an otherwise lacklustre campaign.

“Just because it is an election with a traditionally low vote turn out doesn’t mean hoardings cannot be well designed and complement the urban environment.

My team have produced a really striking billboard that I feel proud to put up around the huge area making up the AECT electorate.” said Ms Coom.

But of course quality design is not enough to win an election, it is critical that there is substance to the message on the billboards – “Putting Community into your trust” .

“It is easy to overlook the fact AECT is a community trust because of the domination of the political parties. I wish to serve on the Trust to bring a truly community focus” said Ms Coom.

All electricity consumers within the AECT district are eligible to vote. The AECT district covers all of the Auckland City Council and Manukau City Council areas and part of the Papakura District Council area. Voting papers will be sent out on 15 October and must be returned no later than 30 October.


  • Photo: Michelle Ardern
  • Styling: Hair-  Leanne, Makeup- Yelena both at Jarvis on Ponsonby Road
  • Graphic design: Danielle Wilson, Paradigm Design

Pippa is standing with the support of Grey Lynn 2030: transition community

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.

How will you spend your AECT dividend?

The Auckland Energy Consumer Trust paid out $320 on 18 September to electricity consumers (income beneficiaries of the trust) in Auckland City (including Waiheke Island), Manukau City and the northern parts of Papakura. 
AECT are currently undertaking a campaign promoting how great it is to get the dividend and asking people to share their stories as to how they intend to spend the money. It is nice to think of the dividend as a windfall that can be put to a special purchase.
But of course there is no such thing as $320 of “free” money as it partly came from the profits Vector makes from charging the very people who receive the dividend – Vector’s customers who pay electricity line charges. It is fair to ask:  if this money is being returned to us, are we not currently being overcharged for electricity?  Many households will have paid their highest energy bills ever over a cold winter – the dividend could be used to benefit the community through lower power bills when it really matters.
As a trustee I will also be asking whether the large dividend Vector has paid the Trust means Vector is spending enough to give customers what they really want – a safe, reliable and economical service. All very well for households to have an extra $320 this month but not if this has to be spent on candles and torches when the lights go out!
Tell me your stories – is the power really in your hands?

Media Release

Transition Town Candidate to contest AECT election

Thursday 17 September 2009

Community candidate challenges Vector’s sustainability path

A corporate lawyer with experience working for regulated industries will stand as an independent candidate in this year’s election for trustees to the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust.

Pippa Coom, who has worked for Vector Limited, which is majority owned by the Trust, is also the first member of the Transition Town movement to stand for public office.

“I have the skills and experience to be an effective trustee. As the only independent community candidate I am committed to maintaining the Auckland electricity assets of Vector in community ownership and ensuring that Vector is in the best position to respond to the current environmental challenges ” says  Ms Coom.

Pippa Coom launched her campaign for election at the monthly meeting of Grey Lynn 2030:Transition Community, which is part of the international Transition Towns movement.

Suzanne Kendrick, Grey Lynn 2030 steering committee member who is supporting Pippa’s campaign says

“We are very pleased to support an independent community candidate for a community trust.

“It is in the interests of the beneficiaries of the trust – all those with a power bill in greater Auckland, – that the trustees be a good representation of us all and bring a diversity of perspectives to the decisions the Trust makes”

“Business as usual’ in today’s world is not an option as we transition to a low carbon economy and toward more benign methods of energy production, distribution and use. Pippa, through her background with the Transition movement will bring this vital, but currently missing, perspective to the Trust as a trustee” Ms Kendrick said

The election for the five trustees is scheduled from 15 October by postal ballot, with polling day on 30 October.


Glamour bike ride pedals eco-friendly message

Frocks on Bikes happens tomorrow – Saturday the 12th in Ponsonby.

JANIE SMITH – Auckland City Harbour News had this to say in an article called Glamour bike ride pedals eco-friendly message

“Frocks on Bikes co-ordinator Pippa Coom says the concept was launched last December to raise awareness about climate change and using alternative transport.

“It’s trying to encourage women to get out on bikes and feel glamorous about it. Riding a bike is going to be a big part of reducing our carbon footprint.”

Ms Coom hopes at least 350 riders will get involved in the event, which is being held in conjunction with the Ponsonby Market Day.”

Pippa Coom, left, and Sue Sparks get ready for the Frocks Day Out. Phot Jason Oxenham Stuff.
Photo: JASON OXENHAM -FROCKS AND BIKES: Pippa Coom, left, and Sue Sparks get ready for the Frocks Day Out. Auckland City Harbour News

Frocks Day Out will start at 10am at Western Park on Ponsonby Rd, with a parade at 1pm.

For more information go to

Frocks on Bikes

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12th September 2009

Frocks Day Out on Ponsonby Road

Dust off your glam frock, polish up your trusty bike and say “Hello Spring” with a Frockilicious festival of cycling and style!

In tandem with Ponsonby market day, on Saturday September 12th 2009, this frocktastic event will frock off at 10am at Western Park.

Frocks Day Out

Join us in frolicking frockaliciously on our bicyles!

  • Frock to the music from local DJs
  • Get a free bike check by Adventure Cycles
  • Try out the frock-friendly Velorbis bicycles from The Urban Bicycles Co.
  • Be in to win PRIZES from WIDDESS for Best dressed, most Frockilicious helmet and bike decoration!

Widdess pic small
Please spread the word to other potential Frockers
Download a Frocks Day Out poster

Parade in Frockishly fabulous style

At 1pm glamorous frocked up lady cyclists and stylish supporting gents and families will parade along Ponsonby Road from Western Park to Three Lamps and beyond!

Parade Route

View Larger Map

1st – 31st October 2009


The boys have Mo-vember and good luck to ‘em in this worthy cause. But, in pursuit of equality and good clean fun, we’re claiming Frock-tober. Saddle up ladies ’cause soon we ride!

The Auckland chapter of Frocks on Bikes are plotting some Frocking … so keep your chain oiled and your tyres pumped!

24th October 2009

350 Climate Action

Watch this space for details of the’s climate action event. Start shopping for your outfits now ladies – this will be one of the best Frock-popping events of the year!