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Labour: sustainability and lower power bills

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"Labour's energy policy will lower household energy costs and protect the environment," Labour energy spokesperson Pete Hodgson said at the release today of the party's energy policy - "Changing Course."

The policy commits Labour to action across three fronts:
· Encouraging more research into and use of renewable energy sources in New Zealand.
· Active promotion of energy efficiency.
· An inquiry into the electricity sector and action on the inquiry's findings.

"The inquiry will be required to report back by autumn," Mr Hodgson said. "It will be asked to advise the Government whether the electricity distribution and transmission companies should be regulated, and what barriers stand in the way of domestic retail competition.

"A Labour-led Government will also consider whether security of generation is adequately protected under the current system or whether the three "baby ECNZs" should be re-amalgamated. None of the "baby ECNZs"or Transpower will be sold under Labour," Mr Hodgson said.

"At the heart of our policy is energy efficiency. New Zealand has been preoccupied with producing energy rather than using it efficiently. As a result, New Zealand is now one of the least energy efficient countries in the western world.

"Labour plans a number of measures to redress this. These include:
· Widening the role of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority and requiring it to develop energy efficiency strategies.
· Funding energy efficiency programmes in State houses, pensioner units, schools, rest homes and the like and recommencing the energy saver fund to support community based energy efficiency programmes.
· Raising energy efficiency standards, making energy efficiency a central purpose of the Building Act and developing in conjunction with industry life cycle cost labelling for appliances.
· Promoting public education on energy efficiency and ensuring it is taught in schools.
· Ensuring that public transport is subsidised to reflect its true economic and environmental benefit.

"We will also be moving to restrict fixed charges for households to 10 percent of the average domestic electricity bill," Mr Hodgson said. "We will offer the industry the opportunity to come up with a voluntary solution first. If that fails, we will regulate.

"Labour is serious about delivering lower power prices to the New Zealand householder. We are also serious about securing the economic and environmental gains from energy efficiency, and about developing energy sources which are environmentally sustainable."

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