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Electricity reforms haphazard say researchers

11 April 2006

Electricity reforms haphazard say researchers

The electricity market reforms of the 1980s and 90s provided greater security of supply than regulated environment New Zealand is now haphazardly adopting, say two Victoria University researchers in a new book.

Alternating Currents or Counter-Revolution? Contemporary Electricity Reform in New Zealand, written by Professor Lewis Evans and Richard Meade, will be launched tomorrow (Wednesday 12 April) at Victoria University’s Pipitea Campus. The launch coincides with a half day seminar on electricity reform in New Zealand.

Published by Victoria University Press, the book places New Zealand’s current institutional arrangements for the electricity sector within the context of successive waves of economic reform. Its authors claim that, despite common misperceptions, electricity prices and supply security in New Zealand continue to compare favourably with overseas, and are actually better now than they have ever been.

“New Zealand has now needlessly opted for some of the worst possible reform arrangements – costly regulation – for questionable purposes,” says Professor Evans.

“The reforms of the 80s and 90s were not markedly more market-oriented than other reforming countries, and instead we are rapidly, haphazardly and idiosyncratically reverting to the centralised control of the sector that served us so poorly before the reforms, and which prompted them in the first place.”

Professor Evans is a Professor of Economics in the School of Economics & Finance at Victoria University of Wellington and was the first executive director of the New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation Inc (ISCR), where he supervised research into aspects of the New Zealand electricity industry.

Richard Meade is a research principal of ISCR and principal of Cognitus Advisory Services Limited. He lectures in corporate finance, corporate governance and Maori/tribal governance at Victoria University of Wellington.

The book will be launched on Wednesday 12 April at 12.30 pm, on the Mezzanine Floor, Rutherford House, Pipitea Campus, Bunny St, Wellington. Media are welcome to attend.

ENDS

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