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Empowering New Zealand: CPAG says yes to electricity reform

Empowering New Zealand: CPAG says yes to electricity reform

Child Poverty Action Group says electricity reforms proposed by the Green Party and Labour are a breath of fresh air and show there is an alternative to ever-rising electricity prices.

The Community Energy Network (CEN) reports that 340,000 New Zealanders are living in cold houses which they struggle to heat. The rising cost of electricity creates a serious strain on the families, especially families on benefits which already struggle to provide daily necessities for their children.

CPAG Energy spokesperson, Dr Steve Poletti, said, “It is no wonder there has been an increase in hardship when the average household power bill has been rising by $100 a year. Families should not have to choose between food and warmth. Creative thinking is needed to address this serious problem and CPAG believes this idea is worth serious attention. Making power more affordable would reduce child health costs in the long term as home-heating became more affordable.”

Labour and the Green Party are proposing a major intervention in the retail power system in a bid to lower residential power prices. The parties would create a new Pharmac-style agency called NZ Power to act as a single buyer of wholesale electricity and say this would lead to much fairer pricing. The single buyer idea was evaluated in 2006 by the Ministry of Economic Development – (see here) and is used very effectively by other countries, including Brazil, China, Italy, and Japan, says Steve Poletti.

CPAG believes that if we combined this proposal with other positive initiatives such as adding the In Work Tax Credit ($60 to low income children) in with the Family Tax Credit we would soon begin to see heartening results for children and our wider society.


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