4 September 2018

Subject: Entrust Election 2018

Answers demanded from Entrust trustees before voting starts

It’s time for Entrust trustees to provide information so that voters can fairly assess their performance before consumers vote in October.

City Vision for Entrust candidates Peter Neilson, Glenda Fryer, Richard Leckinger and Simon Mitchell (Robert Reid has a previous commitment in Wellington) today delivered to Entrust a series of questions with a request for answers before the voting papers go out on the 11 October this year.

“We are submitting the list of questions attached that, members of the public and beneficiaries of the trust need to know the answers for, before they vote in October” said Peter Neilson.

Simon Mitchell said “the trust has suffered from infighting which has seen candidates dropped and Vector directors removed including the long serving Vector Chair Michael Stiassny. Changes in the electricity business and a possible further sell down of Entrust shareholding in Vector, with the proceeds going to the Auckland Council not the current beneficiaries, are putting the future annual dividend $350 this year at risk.”

There are also increasing doubts about the resilience of Auckland’s electricity supply as major storms such as occurred back in April become more frequent with climate change. There is a need for Entrust trustees to be more open and engaging on these issues with their electors.

The questions cover a range of issues important to voters including:

  • Whether the $350 a year dividend paid by Entrust from Vector’s earnings is sustainable?
  • Why did the trust make no public statement when power was cut for 183,000 customers following the storms in April?
  • Since the April storms which cut power for 183,000 Aucklanders, what steps has Entrust taken to ensure the future security of supply for Vector’s customers?
  • When did Entrust agree with Vector that the previously agreed, $10.5m budget for undergrounding poles and wires would not all be spent on undergrounding to the point where it will take more than 1,000 years to complete the undergrounding at this year’s rate of progress?
  • Has Entrust sought, commissioned or received advice on a further sell-down of Entrust shareholding in Vector, who would receive the proceeds and what the impact on the current $350 a year dividend would be?
  • Did Entrust seek independent advice on the suitability of Michael Stiassny and James Carmichael for having their terms on the Vector board extended?
  • Can Entrust provide a breakdown of the total expenditure spent on consultants and advisors over the past three years?

“The current Entrust trustees have a record of keeping the public in the dark on matters that would allow their performance to be fairly assessed. We say to Entrust, turn on the lights and provide the answers to these and our other questions before we get to vote from 11 October 2018” says City Vision for Entrust spokesperson Peter Neilson

Contact Peter Neilson 021 395 891 peter@neilson.net.nz

Copy of letter Entrust and full set of questions

4 September 2018

Hand-Delivered

William Cairns
Chair
Entrust
101 Carlton Gore Rd
Newmarket
PO Box 109626
Auckland 11149

Dear William Cairns,

Re Information request to ensure informed voters

Elections for Entrust Trustees are to take place shortly. Recent news reports concerning Entrust have shown that there is important information that should be available to consumers and that voters require. Below are questions that seek this information.

We believe these are all questions on matters of high public interest for which answers should be provided before voting papers are distributed on 11 October 2018. We therefore request that answers be sent to the City Vision for Entrust team progressively, as they are completed and that all should be answered by the 4 of October 2018. Answers to be sent to Peter Neilson peter@neilson.net.nz and Robert Gallagher rrgallagher@actrix.co.nz.

  1. Dividend Sustainability
    1. Has Entrust (formerly the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust) sought or received any independent advice on the sustainability of the current Vector $350 annual dividend given the expected transformation of the energy sector providing opportunities for current customers to move off the grid, use their own solar power and that while customer numbers are increasing consumption per customer is declining?
    2. If Entrust has received such advice what actions were recommended to sustain or grow the level of the dividend?
    3. Can Entrust provide copies of any such advice received?
  2. Electricity Supply Resilience
    1. Following the April 2018 storms which cut power for 183,000 customers and some had no power for a week or more, has the Trust sought advice from Vector or elsewhere to ensure fewer customers would be affected by a similar event in the future and how to make the return to full service again faster?
    2. Does Entrust consider the current $50 payment for a loss of electricity service is appropriate or adequate compensation for a business or home without power for a week or more?
    3. If such advice has been sought or provided can Entrust provide copies of any such advice received?
    4. Entrust says that in practice, the Trustees “Take a proactive role in ensuring security of supply for our customers”. Can Entrust provide an explanation as to why it made no media statement following the April 2018 storm events that cut power to 183,000 Aucklanders?
    5. Can Entrust outline what proactive steps it has taken to ensure the future security of supply for Vector’s customers?
    6. Can Entrust provide a copy of the State of the Network Report for 2018?
  3. Undergrounding
    1. When did Entrust agree that the previously agreed $10.5m budget with Vector, would not all be spent on undergrounding power poles and lines during the last 12 months?
    2. Did Entrust consult with the community before they made the decision to cut the amount to be spent on undergrounding?
    3. What if any reports have Entrust commissioned or received on how it might accelerate the undergrounding of power lines which at the current rate of progress will take some 1000 years to be completed.
    4. If such reports exist can they be provided?
  4. Possible Vector share sell-down and decisions to not extend the Vector Board terms of the Chairman Michael Stiassny and Board Member James Carmichael
    1. Has Entrust commissioned, sought or received from Vector or elsewhere any advice on whether there should be a further sell-down of Entrust shares held in Vector, whether the dividend recipients or the Auckland Council would or should receive the proceeds of the sale and what impact it would have on the dividend currently paid by Entrust voters?
    2. Can copies of any such reports or advice be provided?
    3. Did Michael Stiassny and/or James Carmichael indicate a wish to have their terms on the Vector Board extended?
    4. Did Entrust make the decision not to extend the terms of Michael Stiassny and James Carmichael in full compliance with the procedures outlined in its Protocol on the Appointment of Directors?
    5. Did Entrust seek independent advice on the suitability of these two directors to have their terms extended and if so could they provide copies of any such advice?
    6. Has Entrust sought legal advice as to whether Paul Hutchison was a qualified person by residence when he was elected to the Trust?
    7. If so can a copy of any such advice be provided?
  5. Entrust Fees, Expenses, Gifts, Minutes, Attendance, Potential Conflicts and Advisor Expenditure
    1. How many Trust meetings has Entrust held over the last year and which members attended each meeting?
    2. Can copies of the minutes for each meeting be provided?
    3. What was the amount of fees paid to each Entrust member over the past year?
    4. What expenses were reimbursed for each member of the Trust over the past year?
    5. What gifts or other things of value were received by trust members over the past year?
    6. Which Entrust members also received director’s fees from Vector or its subsidiaries or elsewhere as a consequence of being Entrust members over the past year and what was the dollar amount they received from each source?
    7. Does Entrust maintain a register of Trustee’s potential conflicts and if so can a copy of the potential conflicts that were declared and registered for each trustee be provided?
    8. Can Entrust provide a listing of the total expenditure paid to consultants and advisors during the current three-year term of trustees and provide a breakdown of the dollar amount paid to each advisor or consultant over the three years including estimates for any work that has been commissioned but not yet paid for?
  6. Polling
    1. Has Entrust undertaken, commissioned or received any polling that outlines the expectations or experience of Vector customers, Entrust beneficiaries or the wider public on the performance of Vector, Entrust or the electricity lines or electricity retail industry?
    2. If so can copies of any such polling be provided?

I look forward to your prompt response.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Neilson
City Vision for Entrust
Team Leader

Cc          Helen Keir
Chief Operating officer
Entrust