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Sustainable Farmers need Sustainable Electricity

Sustainable Farmers need Sustainable Electricity Networks

"Federated Farmers views the requirements for operation of a sustainable electricity network system in a rural area is disappointing" said Dom O'Sullivan, chairman of Energy Trusts of New Zealand (ETNZ). "Farming is about operating a business in a sustainable way, and most farmers appreciate that short term policies are inappropriate for the sustainable operation of a rural electricity network."

Mr O'Sullivan was responding to reports that Federated Farmers was supporting the Commerce Commission's regulation proposal to force blanket price reductions on all electricity lines companies.

"Most rural lines companies are owned by community trusts" said Mr O'Sullivan, "and these companies already operate very efficiently, only make minimal returns on the community funds invested, AND pass their small profits back to consumers in the form of rebates."

"Blanket network price reductions, forced by regulation, will inevitably lead to cost reductions being achieved through reduction in staff numbers, with consequential reductions to security and service levels for the network. Farmers are well aware who will be the first to suffer longer outage times as a result of less lines staff" said Mr O'Sullivan.

"The Commerce Commission's proposals are flawed and have not been looked at in light of an essential 'regulatory impact assessment'. These proposals must be sent back to the Commission for more consideration" said Mr O'Sullivan.

Mr O'Sullivan pointed out that it was an ill-considered Act of Parliament from the last National Government (Electricity Act) that imposed conditions on lines companies that restrained them from building and maintaining local, community owned, electricity supply systems in the most economically sustainable way.

"People should be asking why the only wind farms built in New Zealand were built by community trust owned power companies. Those Trusts acted in a visionary way to help develop a sustainable energy supply future" said Mr O'Sullivan. "The people of the Wairarapa and Palmerston North were bitterly disappointed that those sustainable energy assets for the future had to be sold because of a whim of Government. It has taken many years for the current government to take action to finally support that community owned vision."

"We send these regulations back for further consideration to ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past" concluded Mr O'Sullivan.

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