Auckland woman living with her six grandchildren describes struggle of trying to pay the power bill

An Auckland grandmother struggling to pay her electricity bills is urging the Government to rethink the pay in advance "prompt payments" scheme and to "think of the little people".

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Karina Tipene shared her story on TVNZ1’s Breakfast. Source: Breakfast

Karina Tipene looks after six of her grandchildren who stay with her from Monday to Friday before they go to their dad's at the weekend.

Today she told TVNZ1's Breakfast that last winter she was having to borrow money from Work and Income to pay for her power bills and having to cook dinner late for her grandchildren so she could simultaneously heat up the house.

Late last year her debt to both WINZ and to companies she'd taken loans from to pay for electricity led her to declare bankruptcy.

Her debts have now been cleared but she's still trapped by the prompt payment discount scheme.  The scheme is offered by some power companies where customers pay for power in advance and incur fees every time they top up.

Ms Tipene told TVNZ1's Breakfast that the Government needs to, "get rid of your bloody prompt payment for God's sake.. ...just think about the little people for a change and try not to think about the bottom line.

"I used to be on Glowbug and found that even though you pay a certain amount per week you pay more than what you would pay in a month. 

"I'd say at the time I'd be paying up to $300 per month, which is a lot during summer and in the winter it'd be even more," Ms Tipene said.

"When you run out of prepay you have no power, that's it... ...last year I had $127 to manage on after all of the bills have been taken out."

The Government is considering getting rid of power prompt payments as they look at options in a report by the Government-appointed Electricity Price Review Panel.