Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 


Power report ducks question of fair prices, Bertram says

Power report ducks question of fair prices, Bertram says

By Pattrick Smellie

Feb. 11 (BusinessDesk) – Taking electricity company asset values back to 1999 levels, as proposed by the Labour and Green parties, would allow consumers to be charged “fair” prices for electricity, says industry reform critic and Victoria University academic Geoff Bertram.

Responding to a report authored by the Sapere economic consultancy for Business New Zealand, which argues the retail electricity market has become competitive and that Labour and Green party policies could push power prices higher, Bertram says “the authors have simply ducked the question of what is a fair electricity price.”

“Regulators in countries such as the US and the UK set prices after asking ‘what is a fair return on the capital generators have actually invested?’” said Bertram. “The Sapere report does not go there.”

Instead, it argued that “today’s inflated values” for electricity assets should be confirmed, which then allowed Sapere to argue that prices would be higher than lower than under the Labour-Greens proposals.

“Labour and the Greens propose to bring asset values, and so prices, back down to historic cost in order to reverse the huge wealth transfers from consumers to the companies over the past decade,” said Bertram. “They plan to take the valuations of generating assets back down to where they ought to have stayed after the 1999 privatisations (of formerly state-owned Contact Energy), and in the process bring down prices for residential customers.”

The Sapere report cites the actual development costs of some of New Zealand’s largest hydro projects, including the Clyde and Tongariro projects, to argue that “measured in today’s dollars, the historic cost of much of the hydro generation plant exceeds current values and hence a far return would not reduce prices.”

“Over the life of these assets, valuations have been made at various dates which may be lower than the historic cost of current values (such as when assets were transferred from a government department to a state-owned enterprise).

“Selecting and imposing one of these valuations on the current owners of the assets is not supported by economic arguments and would be likely be viewed as capricious by investors in long-life assets.

“It is for these reasons that the experience to date in New Zealand and elsewhere in the world is for governments to adopt the most recent valuations as historic cost values when regulation a move from current valuations methods to historic cost methods.”

The report argues the Labour-Greens central buyer policy for wholesale electricity is not properly targeted at retail competition, could lead to higher prices if true historic costs are used, and appears to imply a 40 percent drop in current wholesale electricity prices to achieve power cost cuts to households of around $300 a year.

Moving to a central buyer would also discourage smaller, new entrants to electricity retailing in favour of very large retailers seeking economies of scale, which would stifle innovation.

“This is perhaps why no country has managed to implement retail competition under a single-buyer wholesale model,” said the Sapere authors, Kieran Murray and Toby Stevenson, who were involved in the implementation of reforms in 2010 that are credited with improving the competitiveness of the retail electricity market.

The report says electricity price rises have not been well explained, transparency of pricing is inadequate, and that government interventions akin to the Accommodation Supplement may be justified to deal with the fact that energy poverty is on the rise.

Simply lowering prices would not necessarily solve energy poverty, since for many people, the issue was the quality of their housing and inability to afford energy efficiency investments.

(BusinessDesk)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Scoop Business: RBNZ Keeps OCR At 3.5%, Signals Slower Pace Of Future Hikes

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 3.5 percent and signalled he won’t be as aggressive with future rate hikes as previously thought as inflation remains tamer than expected. The kiwi dollar fell to a seven-month low. More>>

ALSO:

Weather: Dry Spells Take Hold In South Island

Many areas in the South Island are tracking towards record dry spells as relatively warm, dry weather that began in mid-August continues... for some South Island places, the current period of fine weather is quite rare. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Productivity Commission To Look At Housing Land Supply

The Productivity Commission is to expand on its housing affordability report with an investigation into improving land supply and development capacity, particularly in areas with strong population growth. More>>

ALSO:

Forestry: Man Charged After 2013 Death

Levin Police have arrested and charged a man with manslaughter in relation to the death of Lincoln Kidd who was killed during a tree felling operation on 19 December 2013. More>>

ALSO:

Smells Like Justice: Dairy Company Fined Over Odour

Dairy company fined over odour Dairy supply company Open Country Dairy Limited has been convicted and fined more than $35,000 for discharging objectionable odour from its Waharoa factory at the time of last year’s ”spring flush” when milk supply was high. More>>

Scoop Business: Dairy Product Prices Decline To Lowest Since July 2012

Dairy product prices dropped to the lowest level since July 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, led by a slump in rennet casein and butter milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

SOE Results: TVNZ Lifts Annual Profit 25% On Flat Ad Revenue, Quits Igloo

Television New Zealand, the state-owned broadcaster, lifted annual profit 25 percent, ahead of forecast and despite a dip in advertising revenue, while quitting its stake in the pay-TV Igloo joint venture with Sky Network Television. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news