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Harawira: Electricity Industry Reform Bill


Electricity Industry Reform Amendment Bill
Hone Harawira, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau
Thursday 13 December 2007

Earlier this year, the Maori Party Caucus met with AWATEA – the Aotearoa Wave and Tidal Energy Association … a most instructive hui.

AWATEA told us that given Aotearoa’s likely energy demands over the next 10 years, we need to be creating a larger renewable energy ‘pipeline’ now.

They reckon that wave and tidal power solutions, or ‘blue energy’ could start contributing to the country’s power supply within the next 5-10 years, and eventually meet up to 20% of the nation’s electricity demand.

And I was reminded of that meeting, and their passion for tidal energy, as I worked on my speech for this Bill tonight, because AWATEA also felt that marine energy technologies were on the cusp of commercial development, and that we should be capitalizing on our ‘world class’ wave and tidal resources to test home-grown and overseas designs, so we would urge energy leaders in Aotearoa to catch this wave of innovation if we are to optimise energy generation from renewable sources.

M… Speaker, the Maori Party has often raised in this House, the need to confront the twin crises of peak oil and climate change; indeed just last week I issued a press release reiterating a call we made back in 2005, and oft-times since, of the need for a cross-party parliamentary commission on peak oil.

Everyone knows too that the link between oil-consumption and climate change is a priority issue for everyone in this House – and so we again repeat the call for broad-ranging options to serve our future power demands, to invest in new power generation options - blue energy, hydro, wind, geothermal, whatever, but let’s give it a go.

We support the change to the definition of “new renewables” so that lines businesses can invest in all renewables, including hydro and geothermal, which had previously been excluded, and we are well aware of the positive contribution that efficient geothermal generation can make, to reducing carbon emissions.

The New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development tells us for example, that efficient gas-fired power generation in and around Auckland could replace our dependence on Huntly coal generation, as well as reduce pressure on transmission capacity into the region.
It is also very timely that geothermal generation is included in this broader definition of renewables, because just yesterday I was referring to the work of the Tuaropaki Trust who have just granted a 30 year licence to Tuaropaki Power to generate power from it’s geothermal fields until 2027.

This Bill also proposes to make it easier for lines businesses that carry electricity produced by others, to sell the output of that part of the generation they carry, thereby encouraging them to invest further in renewable energy generation.

Just a small but necessary word of caution though – we would hope that any such investment will include fair and just negotiations with those hapü and iwi, within whose territories those resources lie.

On another level, this Bill also proposes to narrow the scope of ownership separation requirements, so that where lines and supply are not co-located, lines businesses can be involved in both generation and retail, again, to encourage more market investment in renewable energy generation and development.

In closing then, we again raise the critical importance of our whole nation preparing to deal with a pending energy crisis, and challenge all sectors of our economy and the wider community to utilise our limited natural resources in a sustainable, environmentally considerate manner, so that all citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand, can have access to affordable energy resources, in a world of ever-increasing energy shortages and rising prices.

Because whatever else our future might involve, it must include efficient management of electricity, and the Maori Party will be promoting a range of strategies as part of those future solutions, including:

investigation of net metering, and the viability of compulsory solar water- heating in all new homes and buildings;
the investigation of passive solar design as mandatory in all new dwellings;
retrofitting all government buildings with solar water-heating and renewable energy power supplies;

tax breaks for approved passive solar new and retro-fitted design buildings;
and tax breaks for insulating, solar-heating, and energy-efficient dwellings, businesses and vehicles.

We look forward to these and a whole range of other proposals, coming through the Select Committee process in relation to this Electricity Industry Reform Amendment Bill.

ENDS

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