The Eastland Community Trust (ECT) already owns, on behalf of residents, several major utilities. The electricity network and port are managed by ECT’s commercial arm, Eastland Group Ltd, (EGL). The benefits enjoyed by the port, in particular, from utilising the regional road network are obvious and there have been suggestions some of the $13M EBIT port profits should be channeled to support the road network it relies on. Unlike ECT, the majority of community energy trusts around the country pass back significant discounts or rebates to its beneficiaries.
The suggestion that network profits, $9.6M EBIT last year, could instead be channeled to support funding community infrastructure, has merit.
The decision by ECT to allow its trading arm to invest $120M in a geothermal plant in Kawerau, when the need for local infrastructure funding is dire, rubs salt into the wound for many residents.
Perhaps ECT should reconsider its aspiration to be the powerhouse of economic growth in our region and instead focus on providing competitive utility charges, supporting new community infrastructure and allowing the private sector to do what it does best?