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Budget 2003 - Funding boost for energy programmes

Budget 2003 - Funding boost for energy programmes

The 2003 Budget boosts two grants schemes and a loan scheme that aim to reduce energy costs and improve New Zealand’s energy efficiency and use of renewable energy.

The programmes are administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). The two grants schemes cover low-income homes and the use of solar water heating, while the loan scheme targets public sector organisations.

An additional $1.2 million will be allocated under the EnergyWise Home Grants scheme to projects which insulate the homes of low-income families.

Energy Minister Pete Hodgson says insulating a home reduces the family’s power bill and makes the home warmer, drier and healthier to live in. "Anecdotal evidence suggests that families living in homes that have benefited from the scheme in the past have reduced incidence of respiratory illnesses such as asthma which are commonly associated with cold, damp homes."

The EnergyWise Home Grants scheme will allocate around $3 million to residential retrofit projects in 2003/04. Depending on co-funding opportunities, around 4,400 homes will be retrofitted in the next year. Applications for the grants are now open and organisations wanting to run a project to retrofit 30 homes or more should contact EECA for more information or visit the EECA website, http:// http://www.eeca.govt.nz

With an increased focus on the use of renewable energy, the Government has committed $200,000 to the Solar Hot Water Grants scheme. The scheme helps the solar industry increase the number of solar hot water systems installed on New Zealand homes. In the next year, around 400 solar water heaters will be installed under this scheme.

"Hot water heating accounts for up to 45 percent of a home’s power use, which means there is significant potential for savings, Mr Hodgson said. The grants scheme will help develop the market for solar water heaters, which will enable us to utilise more of this renewable resource to meet household energy needs."

The 2003 Budget also increases the Crown Energy Efficiency Loan scheme by $1 million to $2 million per year. The Crown Loan scheme provides funding to public sector organisations for energy efficiency improvements. The loans are repaid with the energy cost savings made by the improvements.

"The National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy set an ambitious target of a 15 percent improvement in energy efficiency in the public sector by 2006. This target won’t be achieved without some capital investment from the sector and the Crown Loan scheme helps public sector organisations, such as schools and hospitals, make capital investments to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. The loans are typically repaid in 5 years, after which the energy savings go straight back into the operating budget of the organisation.

"Investing in energy efficiency is win-win for the Government and for the organisations and families who improve their energy use. Reduced power bills help businesses and families by putting cost savings in their back pocket, and more efficient energy use helps us meet the target set by the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy. The less energy we have to generate from fossil fuels the better it is for our environment and our ability to meet our international obligations on climate change."

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