Electricity price gouging shows urgent need for massive solar injection
Friday, September 14: A new report published by the University of Auckland Business School has revealed that New Zealanders have been ripped off by big electricity generators to the tune of $5.4 billion over seven years.
Senior Lecturer in Energy Economics at the Business School, Dr. Stephen Poletti, has demonstrated that from 2010 to 2016, New Zealand’s big power generators pocketed an extra $5.4 billion in profits over and above what they would have if the wholesale electricity market was truly competitive.
This is in addition to previous findings that electricity retailers, usually the same companies, have been making excess profits.
Yesterday, Greenpeace released a plan to kit out half a million New Zealand homes with solar and batteries over the next 10 years in order to curb climate pollution and make electricity more affordable for everyone. The solar panels and batteries would be paid for with money currently being used to subsidise the oil and gas industry.
Greenpeace Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman, is urging the Government to adopt the plan.
"It’s clear that New Zealanders are being ripped off by big power generator and retailers to the tune of billions of dollars," says Norman.
"This greedy strategy by the energy companies clearly shows why a solar empowerment strategy such as that released by Greenpeace yesterday is so important. It’s time to give power back to the people and empower households to take charge of their own electricity.
"Distributed generation and storage is essential if we are to cut the mega-profits of electricity companies, at the same time as generating the renewable electricity we will need in the years ahead to power our electric vehicle fleet."
Yesterday Greenpeace released its plan to solarise New Zealand from on board its flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, which is currently touring the country.
Speakers at the event included Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff; Vice President of the Council of Trade Unions, Rachel Mackintosh; Vector CEO, Simon MacKenzie; Senior Lecturer at the Auckland University Energy Centre, Julie MacArthur; the Chair of the Sustainable Energy Association of New Zealand, Brendan Winitana; and Greenpeace New Zealand Climate and Energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson.
Alongside the event, Greenpeace launched a petition calling on Energy Minister, Megan Woods, to divert funds from oil industry subsidies and put solar panels and batteries on 500,000 homes by 2030. It has already gathered over 5,000 signatures.
Greenpeace’s 10-year solar plan would work through a Government interest free loan on panels and a battery, delivering solar power with no upfront costs for the homeowner. It would be financed by diverting the $78m to $88m a year of public money currently spent on subsidies for the oil and gas industry.
The plan would provide additional support to 100,000 lower incomes homes through a government grant that would cover at least half of the system cost.
The zero interest loans would be attached to the house that receives the solar panels and batteries, not to the individuals who own it or rent it. They could be administered through Regional Councils, and paid back through rates, much in the same way that home insulation loans have been managed to date.
The Greenpeace solar plan comes on the back of the Government’s April announcement banning new offshore oil and gas exploration permits.