April 3: Climate activists with 350 Aotearoa have delivered ginormous ‘climate bills’ to Gentailer (Generator-Retailer) offices across the country, highlighting links between the windfall profits from Gentailers, high power prices and a lack of investment in local clean energy infrastructure.

“Everyone has the right to a safe climate, and a affordable, resilient power supply. Yet right now, the Gentailers are benefitting from our broken electricity market, making billions of dollars of profits through keeping fossil fuel generation on life support and power prices high for households. We need the government to tax the Gentailers excess profits, and re-invest the funds in homegrown, renewable energy,” says Adam Currie, campaigner for 350 Aotearoa. 

Protestors delivered ‘climate bills’ to Gentailer offices in Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington today – with more actions occuring later in the week. It comes as the four Gentailers – Genesis, Mercury, Meridian, and Contact Energy – have distributed a whopping $8.7 billion to shareholders, since 2014. A report from FIRST Union, the NZCTU and 350 Aotearoa argues the Gentailers made windfall profits from underinvesting in renewables and keeping power prices high. 225,000 homes lost power during Cyclone Gabrielle.

“We’re delivering the Gentailer-cartel the bill for the climate damage their corporate greed has caused. Distributed renewable energy would have not only produced less climate-killing emissions that drive extreme weather events like Gabrielle, but it would’ve also supported communities to be more resilient to power cuts. Whānau could have kept their lights on, right when they needed it most. The four Gentailers are like a cartel; spilling energy to keep power prices high and generally doing everything they can to continue generating billions of dollars for their shareholders,” says Currie.

“Household power bills have increased by 42% over the last 14 years, driving whānau into energy poverty, making the impossible choice between keeping the lights on and putting kai on the table. It doesn’t have to be this way – the government can intervene to create cheap, locally-owned solar and wind that protects both our climate and communities from the Gentailers price-gouging. This is the time for investing in renewable solutions to make electricity clean and affordable for all.”

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