People who went without electricity in Monday night’s power cuts are being told they have a legal right to compensation.
Transpower has apologised after it asked lines companies to cut power in some areas to handle all-time high demand for electricity, combined with insufficient generation, on one of the coldest nights of the year.
Mercury said it would put credit on the accounts of affected customers but other power companies are yet to confirm any reimbursement.
Consumer New Zealand head of research Jessica Wilson said under the Consumer Guarantees Act consumers should expect electricity that is reasonably reliable and safe.
Not getting power on one of the coldest nights of the year clearly failed that test, she said. There were “strong grounds for compensation” and people should seek recompense for line charges they paid but did not benefit from.
Wilson said people should also be able to claim for what is known as consequential losses.
“So for example if your freezer lost power and you lost a lot of food, you’d be able to claim compensation for that as well.”
Mercury said it would put $50 on the accounts of its affected customers.
Hamilton resident Anthony Billington who lost power for an hour said the money wasn’t too important for him, but he did want better communication.
“I remember in the not too distant past, when lake levels were low you got a warning weeks in advance,” he said, adding that his biggest frustration about Monday night was “the total lack of warning.”
Energy Minister Megan Woods and Genesis Energy are to meet today to nut out what needs to change following the power outage.
Woods has blamed commercial decisions by power companies and pointed the finger at Genesis Energy, in particular, for failing to turn on its third generator despite having been warned there would be massive demand.
Genesis chief executive Mark England said the company had been made a scapegoat and he will be asking the minister why.
“To pick one company out of the crowd and single them out as the problem doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Woods said she was not scapegoating Genesis, but its generator at Huntly was the “critical piece that could have been turned on quickly”.