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Nats' Energy Policy in the right direction

“National’s Energy Policy is a step in the right direction,” says Grey Power

“Elderly New Zealanders’ biggest concern is the rising price of electricity, seemingly out of control,” says Grey Power Federation president Graham Stairmand. “The National Party’s energy policy finally seems to be getting to grips with the problem.

“Since 2001, the cost of generating and retailing electricity has risen more than 60 per cent, while delivery costs (transmission and distribution charges from line companies), have hardly changed,” Mr Stairmand says. “The government wisely regulated the line companies, but has done nothing to the soaring generating and retailing costs.

“Clearly, the problem is not enough power. Since 1995 electricity consumption has risen by 20 per cent, but generation has only increased by 10 per cent. This is partly due to the difficulty in securing resource consents. But we believe a policy of deliberate scarcity by generating companies to raise prices and increase profits – and at the same time reduce capital risk, is the primary culprit.

“Relieving this scarcity by building power stations is not in the companies’ interests,” Mr Stairmand asserts. “These high prices have given the government, which owns about two-thirds of the generators and retailers in New Zealand, nearly one billion dollars from electricity consumers each year in dividends, special dividends, company tax and GST.

“National’s recently announced Energy Policy to establish a generation and transmission development plan and to appoint a Minister of Infrastructure to oversee progress is a welcome step in the right direction. National will also streamline the resource consent process, and allow line companies to invest in generation. This should bring additional power, and much needed competition to the industry and subsequently lower electricity prices,” says Graham Stairmand.

He says “National still needs to seriously increase consumer involvement in its energy policy. Consumers have had virtually no input into electricity reforms, which is why they have fared so badly out of them. Grey Power stands ready to assist in organizing consumer representation as soon as the government provides the means for us to do so.”

With more than 90,000 active members, Grey Power is recognised as a leading support organisation for many of the three-quarters of a million retired New Zealanders. Grey Power maintains strict neutrality during the election campaign, but will respond with support and information that may affect its members.

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