Atkin­son claims power trustees ‘paid too much’


The Chair of Hawke’s Bay DHB is run­ning for a po­si­tion on the re­gion’s elec­tric­ity trust and claims the cur­rent trustees are pay­ing them­selves an ex­ces­sive amount.

Kevin Atkin­son, who has chaired the DHB for 18 years and re­cently ended a 19-year ten­ure as chair­man of Uni­son lines com­pany, is one of 13 candidates hop­ing to be­come one of five trustees on the Hawke’s Bay Power Con­sumers Trust.

Uni­son is wholly owned by the trust, which each year dis­trib­utes div­i­dends from Uni­son to Hast­ings and Napier con­sumers, as well as de­cid­ing how to in­vest in power sup­ply and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and con­ser­va­tion projects.

This year each elec­tric­ity ac­count holder in Napier and Hast­ings re­ceived a div­i­dend of $200. The trust’s chair re­ceives $44,000 a year. The other trustees re­ceive $22,000 and all get paid meet­ing fees. Atkin­son said th­ese salaries were far more than war­ranted.

‘‘The DHB chair is paid $42,000 and DHB mem­bers paid $20,400, yet those po­si­tions are far more oner­ous and ob­vi­ously carry far more re­spon­si­bil­ity,’’ he said.

Atkin­son be­lieved the elec­tric­ity trustees should be paid less than half their cur­rent re­mu­ner­a­tion.

Atkin­son is one of a group of candidates who be­lieved a re­view was needed to ask con­sumers how they wanted their div­i­dend paid, in­clud­ing, di­rect cred­it­ing the con­sumer’s bank ac­count, ap­ply­ing a credit to the con­sumer’s power ac­count and whether there should be an op­tion for con­sumers who wished to do­nate their div­i­dend to a char­i­ta­ble fund that would back projects ben­e­fit­ing con­sumers.

Diana Kir­ton, who has been a trus­tee for 12 years, said Atkin­son’s crit­i­cism was ‘‘un­war- ranted and ill-in­formed’’.

‘‘I can only spec­u­late that th­ese com­ments are an at­tempt to muddy the wa­ters fol­low­ing the strong pub­lic re­ac­tion against his ‘power of five’ teams’s elec­tion bid,’’ she said.

Kir­ton said feed­back from the likes of Grey Power was that peo­ple want their div­i­dend paid to them. She said trus­tee re­mu­ner­a­tion had re­mained at $22,000 since 2002, and was in line with sim­i­lar trusts around the coun­try.

The elec­tion closes on Oc­to­ber 2.

Kevin Atkin­son

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