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$3m for energy efficiency from Greens

The Green Party today revealed the first initiative in the Green Budget Package, adding $3 million to the Government's funding of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said reducing energy waste was an issue close to her heart.

"It took me two years to get my Energy Efficiency Bill through Parliament, before it passed on May 10 this year. I can only compare it to a very long pregnancy, and like all parents, I want to know there is enough money to feed the child properly."

Funding for EECA was repeatedly cut by the National government and they planned further cuts for this year. That included ending the Energy Saver Fund which gives grants to upgrade low-income housing - to save energy and reduce illness from cold and damp.

The incoming Labour Government planned to reverse these cuts and restore EECA funding to last year's level. However, this would not have been enough to implement the requirements of the new legislation.

Ms Fitzsimons said $3 million would allow a national strategy on energy use to be developed, work to begin on minimum energy performance standards for products like fridges and cars, and grants to upgrade homes to continue.

"A four year study released last week on New Zealand's energy use found that we have a big-spending approach to energy - living in large, poorly heated homes and owning lots of cars," said Ms Fitzsimons. "With rising petrol prices, this kind of energy spend-up will penalise our economy as well as our environment. Saving energy is the cheapest and easiest way to start combating climate change."

"I am absolutely delighted that we have been able to negotiate a Green Budget Package with the Government. Our first priority has been to fund EECA adequately, so it can continue to tackle the big job of saving energy and encouraging renewable energy sources to meet the obligations set out in the new legislation.

Energy Minister Pete Hodgson said he was delighted with the additional funding.

"Jeanette Fitzsimons' Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act gives new impetus to the Government's wish to shift the focus of energy policy more towards energy efficiency and new renewables. Indeed the Act requires me to develop a national strategy for energy efficiency and conservation. This extra funding means we will be able to implement that strategy faster than would otherwise be possible.

"It is an excellent example of cross-party co-operation and I look forward to seeing New Zealand's energy efficiency improve as a result."

Jeanette Fitzismons MP: 07 868 6641 or 025 586 068; Jonathan Hill, Press sec: 04 470 6719 or 021 110 1133 Pete Hodgson, Minister of Energy contact: Graeme Speden, press secretary, 04 471 9707 or 025 270 9055


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