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Hodgson Delivers Electricity Industry Bill

The Government has tabled an Electricity Industry Bill at Parliament today that will give effect to the Power Package decisions announced in October.

"This Bill is another significant step in fixing up the mess left by the previous Government's changes to the electricity industry," said Energy Minister Pete Hodgson. "I am pleased to have it tabled before Christmas, as promised."

Mr Hodgson said the Government Policy Statement on electricity - the other significant document relating to the Government's decisions in response to the Caygill Inquiry into the electricity industry – is currently being finalised and will be released next week. A draft was released in October.

"Together the Bill and the Government Policy Statement provide a comprehensive and strategic approach to electricity policy," Mr Hodgson said. "They introduce changes designed to ensure that electricity is delivered in an efficient, fair, reliable and environmentally sustainable manner to all consumers."

A new Electricity Governance Board with a majority of independent representatives will be responsible for carrying out many of the changes.

The Bill contains backstop regulation-making powers for the establishment of a consumer complaints resolution (ombudsman) scheme, the introduction of a domestic tariff option to limit fixed charges and consumer switching procedures. Wider powers enable the Minister to replace the board with a Crown entity if the industry self-governance model fails seriously to deliver.

The Bill also includes new powers and responsibilities for the Commerce Commission, which is to implement targeted price control for electricity lines companies, including Transpower. It will also administer information disclosure by lines companies, recalibrate line company asset values and review their valuation methodology.

Other proposed changes include easing the statutory restrictions on lines companies investing in distributed generation and clarifying aspects of the legislation covering access to land by line owners.

Ends

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