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We Do Not Need A "Quick Fix" Electricity Solution

We Do Not Need A "Quick Fix" Electricity Solution.

The Sustainable Energy Forum issued a cry from the heart today: "Please, Government, don't act in haste with another quick fix solution!" said Mrs Molly Melhuish, spokesperson for SEF.

Any quick fix answer will be wrong because it will only aim to fix the symptoms but not the problem.

Major electricity users have successfully swamped the media with complaints that spot prices are too high in dry years, forcing their businesses to cut back production. Spot prices are high because New Zealand is short of energy for power generation, with the demise of Maui.

The symptom could be better fixed by providing more energy in ALL years, and reserving existing thermal power stations for use in dry years instead of having them generating flat out to meet the continuous growth in electricity demand.

Energy can be found and developed throughout New Zealand without ramming new power projects through the Resource Management Act. Any householder or business that has high hot water requirements should install solar water heating - a much cheaper solution over its lifetime than supplying electricity from new power stations. All new houses should be required to install solar water heating.

Wind power is now competitive with carbon credit support, and there are many sites available where local residents will not complain about them.

Electricity markets in other countries pay consumers to switch off when power is short - typically at a few minutes’ or a few seconds’ notice. In New Zealand, the most exciting option is to pay consumers in dry years to use dry firewood in existing efficient wood burners. Coppice eucalypt dries to 20% moisture a mere 2 months after it is harvested. Each regional council should set standards for allowable emissions from wood burners.

Most important, improving the efficiency of electricity use is typically half or less the cost of new power generation. Energy efficiency does not come free of charge, and a loan fund supported by Government is needed when householders can not afford either the cost or the time to figure what solution is best for them. Most businesses consider that energy is not their core business, and simply ignore energy efficiency.

Please, Government, find out why New Zealand’s electricity market suppresses small-scale “sustainable energy options”. Information from the U.K., Australia and the U.S. is all relevant. There is a great deal of practical as well as theoretical information out there on how to make a more coherent, predictable, and therefore reliable system for marketing electricity to all consumers.

New Zealand needs a coherent system for delivering reliable electricity to all consumers. We don't need another quick fix!

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