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Electricity Inquiry Misses Important Point - Green

3 February 2000

Electricity Inquiry Misses Important Point - Greens

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today the inquiry into the electricity industry had missed an important point about the need to reform energy use in New Zealand.

"The inquiry has been given a magnifying glass and told to look at the fine-print of how to regulate the way electricity is supplied to consumers and industry," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Ms Fitzsimons said the Green Party believes the inquiry should have been given a much broader brief, to look at the delivery of electricity in the context of the overall demand for, and delivery of, energy in New Zealand.

"I am very disappointed that the Government chose not to involve the Green Party in the policy development work before setting the terms of reference for the inquiry and announcing the members of the inquiry panel," she said. "I think there is a risk that the inquiry panel will be hampered by the narrow terms of reference it has been given by the Government."

Ms Fitzsimons said while she expected there to be some useful gains from the inquiry, at some point New Zealand had to start asking the hard questions and take action on our appalling record on energy efficiency.

"While I agree that the delivery of electricity needs reform, it cannot productively be looked at in isolation. There is an urgent need to look at the big picture of how much energy we use and where it comes from, especially as scientists are expressing growing concerns about climate change caused by continuing use of fossil fuels.

"In particular the regulatory system must encourage companies to chose between selling more electricity and expanding the network, or providing energy services more effectively. This can often be done by using local small scale generation, energy storage, and investment in energy efficiency where these options are more cost effective than upgrading networks," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said her Energy Efficiency Bill, expected to come before Parliament in February, would begin to address some of the factors contributing to New Zealand's high use of energy per person.

"Given that the inquiry has a narrow delivery focus, we expect to see the Government take action on energy efficiency in the near future."

ends Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 07 868 6641 (Thursday), 07 868 6511 (Friday) Gina Dempster, Press Secretary: 04 470 6679

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