Watchdog Takes Retailer to Court for Blocking Meters

For the first time since New Zealand deregulated its electricity market two years ago, the federal Commerce Commission is taking a small power firm to court over its refusal to grant meter access to other electricity suppliers.

WHAKATANE, New Zealand (NZ) 2002-01-30 [] The company, Bay of Plenty Electricity, has 23,000 customers and could be fined A$10 million if the court finds it breached the market dominance provisions of the Commerce Act. It is the first time the monopoly watchdog has taken such action against a power company, and alleges the company, owned by Todd Energy, has breached the Act by refusing metering services agreements and meter access to other electricity retailers wanting to enter the local market in Whakatane. Bay of Plenty Electricity charged “a couple of hundred dollars” for the meter to any rival company wanting to supply power to its customers, says Richard Tweedie of Todd Energy, but he says the action was not anti-competitive since one competitor agreed to pay. He says his company prefers to sell meters, rather than lease them, because it was a cleaner transaction.
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