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Energy policy planning inadequate

Energy policy planning inadequate, says local gas supplier

Heavy promotion of electric heat pumps to alleviate air quality concerns in Canterbury is putting additional pressure on local electricity supplies, says New Zealand’s largest LP Gas supplier.

The general manager of Rockgas, Owen Poole, is questioning the emphasis locally on heat pumps, given the current transmission constraints on electricity and the pressure on existing networks within Christchurch.

“Wouldn’t it be strategically sensible to develop policies that also encourage other clean fuels, like LP Gas?”

Mr Poole said LP Gas is sufficiently clean-burning to meet stringent air quality guidelines. There is plenty of it for long-term security of supply in New Zealand, and it would help to relieve local electricity demand – something South Island businesses may now be forced to do for the third time in three years.

“Nor does New Zealand have to wait years for fuels like LP Gas to become economically viable, or for the necessary infrastructure to be developed. It’s readily available and financially competitive right now.”

Mr Poole said huge volumes of local and central Government time, and taxpayers’ dollars, go into developing electricity and renewables initiatives. However, that has not alleviated New Zealand’s energy supply concerns which are getting worse by the year.

“All it’s done is marginalise other energy options that can contribute very usefully to New Zealand’s energy supply infrastructure and to our energy security.

“Energy and environmental policy planners must think beyond electricity and renewable energy sources that are still years from being mainstream.”

Mr Poole cited as an example the Budget funding to promote solar water heating.

“We support that policy, but feel it would also be strategically sensible to encourage homeowners to switch their base hot water load from electricity to gas.

“That would have significant demand reduction impacts, and using gas for direct purposes is the most efficient use of this fuel. Even the Government says so.”

Rockgas has invested millions of dollars on LP Gas infrastructure in the South Island. The company has laid major reticulation networks in Christchurch, Queenstown, Arrowtown and Wanaka.

The New Zealand LP Gas market has grown nearly 50 percent in the last five years. The biggest growth area is in the domestic and light commercial sectors.

“Developing policies that incorporate other energy sources into the strategic mix will have long-term benefits for New Zealand. Putting all your eggs in the electricity and renewables basket does not make good business sense.”

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