If New Zealanders are asked over the next few years to reduce power use or face blackouts, the responsibility will fall squarely on Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee, says Labour’s Associate Energy spokesperson Chris Hipkins. Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for the ‘Energy News’ Category
Today’s announcement of a virtual asset swap between state owned electricity generators will do nothing to address major concerns about rising power prices, Labour’s associate Energy spokesperson Chris Hipkins said today.
“All these changes do is reinforce the failed ‘more market is best’ approach that Max Bradford inflicted on us in the 1990s. He promised us power prices would go down as a result of his market reforms, instead they have shot up at an alarming rate,” Chris Hipkins said.
“During the last election campaign National MPs and candidates were out on the hustings giving New Zealanders the clear impression that a National government would lower power prices. It’s yet another promise they have failed to deliver on.
“Families struggling to make ends meet and scrape together enough money to pay their power bills will get little comfort from Gerry Brownlee’s advice that they need to ’shop around’ for lower prices.
“Does Gerry Brownlee expect our pensioners to be ringing around different electricity suppliers every week trying to find the lowest price?” said Chris Hipkins.
Mr Hipkins said the National government had ducked making some tough decisions in the electricity sector and consumers would pay the price.
“Gerry Brownlee has even ducked for cover on the issue of smart meters. Instead of ensuring that smart meters help to facilitate more efficient use of electricity and encourage customers to switch between companies, Gerry Brownlee is allowing electricity companies to use smart meters to reinforce their existing market positions.
“Every week we are hearing from Kiwis who are struggling to get by because of National’s mismanagement of the economy. Power prices are a major issue and John Key’s government is doing nothing about it,” said Chris Hipkins.
The Government is back-tracking on a commitment to lower domestic power prices and is leaving that up to a competitive retail market with a “shop around” message to consumers, Labour’s Energy spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta and Associate Energy spokesperson Chris Hipkins say.
“The problem with that approach is that there is no signal from the Government that it is concerned about the increasing costs on households from power prices,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
“New Zealanders are already struggling with the increased cost of living, not helped by National’s GST hike, and now National is backing away from their pre-election rhetoric about lowering power prices. Kiwis have a right to feel let down.
“Gerry Brownlee’s ’shop around’ message is totally unrealistic. Does he really expect every Kiwi household to monitor their power metre on a daily basis and be constantly switching power companies? He’s also rejected the very sensible recommendation from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to set standards for the installation of new ’smart metres’ which could give consumers more real choice,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
The Electricity Industry Bill passed its third and final reading on Thursday.
“Labour has consistently argued that responsible reform should be based on the three priorities of ensuring security of supply, affordability and sustainability,” Chris Hipkins said.
“This new legislation will do nothing to increase the proportion of our electricity that comes from renewable energy sources, and in fact the gutting of the Electricity Commission removes any imperative to consider environmental and sustainability issues. That’s just crazy.
“Despite advice from the Treasury, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Institute for Professional Engineers advising against the move, the proposed asset swap of Tekapo A and B will steam ahead without a clear assessment of cost benefits to the Crown or the consumer.
“Instead we have a Bill that puts at risk an integrated Waitaki catchment generation scheme in favour of competition between SOEs – we received no advice from officials that this is a smart thing to do, nor will it deliver efficiencies to the sector. Given the total absence of any evidence that his will work we can only conclude it’s driven by National’s desire to prepare the energy SOEs for privatisation,” Chris Hipkins said.
“Meanwhile the Government gambles with state assets while consumers feel the pinch!” Nanaia Mahuta said.
National’s Electricity Industry Bill will go through its final stages this week failing to deal with the pressure of increased prices on domestic households, say Labour’s Energy and Associate Energy spokespersons Nanaia Mahuta and Chris Hipkins.
Nanaia Mahuta said today: “There is absolutely no evidence that introducing further competition and asset swaps will tackle the huge variance between domestic and industrial power users.”
Chris Hipkins said the National-Act Government’s plan to “dust off Max Bradford’s failed electricity reforms of the 1990s and introduce more competition in the electricity sector will do nothing to reduce power bills for New Zealanders struggling to make ends meet.
“National’s blind faith that the market will deliver lower power prices is alarming. Max Bradford promised New Zealanders 12 years ago that greater competition would lower power prices,” Chris Hipkins said. “He was spectacularly wrong.
“Despite their pre-election promise to lower power prices, National has taken their eye off the ball. New Zealanders want lower power bills, and were led to believe National would deliver affordability. Yet National is doing little more than resorting to the failed old ideas.”
Nanaia Mahuta said: “Labour is also concerned that National is pushing through a major break-up of the Waitaki hydro system before any robust analysis has been done on the merits of such a change.
“Even Treasury has told the government the case for breaking up the Waitaki hydro system hasn’t been made. The Institute of Professional Engineers is just one of many groups who presented submissions to the select committee hearings on the Bill arguing it won’t work and could in fact lead to less efficient use of water and exacerbate electricity shortages in future years.”
Chris Hipkins said: “National has ducked the big issues. Rather than force this Bill through on the flimsiest of evidence, it should go back to the drawing board and consider how the challenge of rising power prices could be properly addressed.
“It could start by asking why commercial and industrial prices haven’t risen anywhere near as much as domestic power prices in recent times.”
Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee’s constant blundering is leaving the New Zealand biofuels industry hamstrung, Labour’s Associate Energy Spokesperson Chris Hipkins said today. Read the rest of this entry »
Today’s announcement by Gerry Brownlee that the biodiesel grants scheme will be extended to include blends of higher than 20 percent is a further admission that the National Government’s scheme is a total flop, Labour’s Associate Energy spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.
“When National repealed the biofuels sales obligation put in place by the last Labour government Gerry Brownlee claimed that biofuels would still play a big part in our ‘energy mix’ in the future, yet his replacement subsidy scheme has been a total disaster,” Chris Hipkins said.
“Gerry Brownlee was warned when he pushed through the repeal of the biofuel sales obligation under parliamentary urgency in late 2008 that he was pulling the rug out from under the fledgling biofuel industry. He went ahead anyway. That’s the type of approach New Zealanders have come to expect from Mr Brownlee. He’s not interested in facts or research.
“As at the end of May this year less than $200,000 of the $36 million that has been set aside for the scheme had been taken up. It’s been a total flop. Gerry Brownlee claimed the biodiesel grants scheme would create 240 jobs yet it’s quite clear that was all bluster and very few jobs have eventuated,” Chris Hipkins said.
“How can Gerry Brownlee claim that the government is serious about encouraging the uptake of biofuels when National’s flagship policy in this area has been a total failure?
“It is becoming increasingly obvious that the government’s commitment to renewable energy is a complete sham. Not only has its flagship biodiesel scheme proved to be a total flop, but the Emissions Trading Scheme has been a shambles and National has continued to vote against measures to promote renewable energy.
“With this sort of track record, how can the Ministers expect New Zealanders to have any confidence in the National Government’s commitment to renewable energy and addressing the challenge of climate change?” Chris Hipkins said.
Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee remains unable to present a strong business case for the multi-million dollar asset swaps he is forcing on SOEs Meridian and Genesis, Labour’s Energy spokespeople Nanaia Mahuta and Chris Hipkins said today. Read the rest of this entry »
The Labour Party has welcomed news that the Government intends to join the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) but remains sceptical about its commitment to increasing the share of New Zealand’s energy that comes from renewable sources.
“In New Zealand we’re fortunate that the majority of our electricity generation already comes from renewable sources, but the trend in recent years has been for a greater proportion to come from non-renewable sources such as gas and coal,” Labour’s energy spokesperson Charles Chauvel said.
“It’s hard to reconcile the Government’s stated commitment to renewable energy with their desire to mine minerals in our national parks.
“Gerry Brownlee thinks coal is ’sexy’, so I’m not sure how he reconciles that with National’s supposed commitment to renewable energy. I hope joining this group is a serious move and not just gesture politics by this government.
Labour’s Associate Energy Spokesperson Chris Hipkins says his Electricity (Renewable Preference) Amendment Bill provides the perfect opportunity for the National Government to demonstrate it means what it says.
“One of National’s first decisions upon becoming government was to reverse the legislative preference for new electricity to come from renewable sources that the last Labour government put in place,” Chris Hipkins said.
“My Bill reinstates that renewable preference and if the National Government is genuinely committed to renewable energy, I look forward to them supporting my Bill to select committee.
“New Zealand can lead from the front on renewable energy and gain economic and environment benefit. The Government’s commitment to joining the International Renewable Energy Agency is a step in the right direction, now it needs to be backed up with real action,” Charles Chauvel and Chris Hipkins said.
Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins is delighted the Electricity (Renewable Preference) Amendment Bill has been drawn from the ballot and will now be debated in Parliament. The Bill would prevent the construction of further non-renewable electricity generation, except where essential for security of electricity supply.
“New Zealand is fortunate that a large proportion of our electricity generation comes from renewable sources such as wind and hydro. We have so many opportunities to develop further renewable electricity generation that there really is no excuse to keep relying on fossil fuels that aren’t renewable and are bad for the environment,” Chris Hipkins says.
“By firmly establishing our commitment to renewable electricity generation we will not only be doing the right thing by the environment, we’ll also be enhancing our international reputation as a clean, green country and living up to the international commitments we have made to address the challenge of climate change.
“At a time when our international reputation as a clean green nation is being questioned, the First Reading of my Bill will provide all parties in Parliament with the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to tackling the challenge of climate change in a meaningful way. We have to live up to our reputation – it’s too valuable to lose.
“Renewable energy is the way of the future. In the medium to longer term, as the price of fossil fuels continues to rise, it will be cheaper and it will also be more secure. I hope that the reinstatement of a restriction on new thermal generation will be the first of a series of steps New Zealand takes to promote greater use of renewable energy and enhanced energy efficiency.
“Over the past two decades the majority of our growth in demand for electricity has been met by the development of non-renewable electricity generation. That’s just not sustainable.
“I challenge all parties in Parliament to do the right thing by the environment and by future generations and support this Bill at First Reading so that it can go to a Select Committee and all the evidence can be heard,” Chris Hipkins said.
Labour backs comments by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment that a smart electricity grid and smart electricity meters are just as important in the twenty-first century as core infrastructure such as roads and broadband, Labour’s Associate Energy spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. Read the rest of this entry »