Yesterday the Green Party launched a plan for cheaper power bills, cleaner electricity generation, and a smarter electricity network. It’s all about empowering consumers.
Energy has always been important to the Greens. In fact, the green movement formed around the Manapouri power station campaign. In Parliament, we’ve worked with Labour and National governments to establish EECA, set up the Low User Fixed Tariff, and insulated 300,000 homes.
This week we launched the next phase of our vision.
The plan addresses the big issues in electricity: energy poverty, climate change, and the rise of new technologies.
It’s unacceptable that so many Kiwi families are getting sick because they can’t afford to switch the heater on, and it’s not ‘on’ for a country like ours so blessed with a wealth of clean energy to be still burning coal.
The Empowering New Zealand comprehensive plan for the electricity sector includes:
- $112 million for winter warm-up payments to help low-income households cover their power bills
- setting a goal for 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 (in average hydrological conditions)
- an investigation into the electricity wholesale market
- encouraging lines companies to work together and embrace new technology to bring down costs
- modernising industry rules to encourage competition, transparency and use of data.
It’s been fantastic to see the response to the policy.
But most people don’t think about power stations, the wholesale market, transmission and distribution regulation much – they think about turning on the lights and paying their bills. With a fifth of low-income Kiwis using no heating at all and children making 40,000 trips to hospital a year because of cold, damp housing, reducing energy poverty is a priority.
Yesterday we announced we will establish a new winter warm-up electricity payment, providing relief every winter. This will flatten out people’s power bills by covering 75% of the average winter increase for the 520,000 households that earn under $50,000 a year – the families who need it the most to help pay their winter electricity bills. It would go direct to households and the other measures in the package would keep downwards pressure of prices.
The winter warm-up payments are based on similar programmes in the UK, Canada, the US, and Australia and will cost $112 million. The Government has received $1.3 billion in total dividends from the former SOE’s since the partial privatisation and it’s only fair it can give a little back to those who need it most.
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The winter warm-up payments, alongside the 100% renewables target and opening up and modernising the electricity system, will achieve the Green vision for cleaner, cheaper, smarter power.
I’m proud to say no other party has such a track record of leadership and vision on energy issues, and no other party has such a comprehensive plan for the next decade.
See our full electricity plan at www.greens.org.nz/empowering-nz