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Govt cuts energy efficiency budget despite crisis

Nick Smith National Environment Spokesperson

26 June 2001

Govt cuts energy efficiency budget despite power crisis

Parliament's Environment Select Committee today had a fiesty debate over the Government's $869,000 (8.2 %) cut in funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) for the 2001-02 financial year, National's Environment Spokesperson Nick Smith said. "At the very time power prices are going through the roof, and the Government is profiting by over $1 million a week from the power crisis, it is extraordinary that they are cutting energy efficiency funding.

"It is all the more hypocritical when the Government is calling on retail power companies to promote efficiency by paying consumers to reduce power consumption. $51 in every $100 power bill goes to the Government and they must show leadership by putting their hands in their pockets to help energy efficiency," Dr Smith said.

The 2000-01 budget was $10.534 million and is being reduced to $9.665 million this year. All of the decrease is in the funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. The irony is that Energy Minister Pete Hodgson described Nationals 1996/97 Budget for EECA of $10.8 million as woefully inadequate.

"The inquiry into the 1992 power crisis criticised the electricity industry for not calling for conservation and efficiency early enough. We must heed the lessons now with the lakes at 30 percent lower than their normal levels.

"The Government needs to spend only $1 million of the $100 million special dividend received this month from its State Owned Enterprises.

"The rain may save us but we should take the precautionary measure of a public campaign for energy efficiency now. In August it will be too late," Dr Smith said.

Ends

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