Central Lakes Trust support threatened
Central Lakes Trust’s ability to support communities is under threat, with proposed electricity reforms that will force small local generators to shut down.
Pioneer Energy, owned by Central Lakes Trust, was one of several local generators represented at a public meeting in Cromwell on Friday.
Since the trust’s inception in 2000, it has distributed more than $78 million of grants from its investment portfolio and dividends into a wide range of community projects and services around the Central Lakes area.
Chair of Central Lakes Trust Malcolm Macpherson said the financial impact of the Electricity Authority’s current proposals could potentially affect Pioneer’s bottom-line and they were continuing to seek information from Pioneer on the potential impact.
Pioneer Energy chair Stuart Heal said Pioneer Energy owned 14 local power stations in the greater Central Otago region, and Pioneer’s dividend to the trust that helped support projects in the community was now under ‘‘real threat’’.
‘‘If these changes are implemented completely as drafted, then this dividend is under real threat. In our submissions to the authority, among other ideas we have suggested some form of gradual implementation. To have such a complete reversal in nine years is just simply impossible for us to manage. If successful, it will be a major blow to regional New Zealand. In total, local generators provide about 10 per cent of the country’s electricity and the authority has openly stated that through this process they would expect 40 per cent of the local generators not to survive.’’
Central Otago mayor Tony Lepper said the region was well served by Pioneer Energy and it was a star performer in the local economy.
‘‘I just can see the reaction in our community if Central Lakes Trust loses a whole lot of funding...We need them. We need the people they employ and we need the dividends they return to our community. Anything that puts those under threat is worth us standing up for and fighting for. That is what Central Otago does.’’