Green energy policy launch

Jeanette after policy launch

Jeanette has just launched the Greens’ energy policy for the 2005 election at a press conference in the Caucus Room.

The key initiatives:

  • The Government buying half a million solar panels, to take advantages of economies of scale. Some of these would be installed in state houses and government buildings, but the majority would be sold at cost to families (with loan schemes so low-income families could afford them).
  • Scrapping the fixed charge for electricity, so you only pay for what you use. This would provide a greater incentive for people to use less electricity.
  • Setting up one-stop energy advisory shops around the country to offer advice to people on how to make their homes more energy efficient.
  • Changing the Electricity Commission into the Sustainable Energy Commission, so that it has a mandate to look at all fuels, including renewable ones. Part of its mandate would be to test all new large capital projects – such as Transpower pylons – against renewable alternatives.

All major media organisations were in attendance (the Herald even sent three representatives – now, that’s commitment), and some very intelligent questions were asked. Some questions covered the Labour/Green relationship (How closely can you work on energy? Is this a deal-breaker? Could you handle the energy portfolio in a Labour/Green government? Will energy be a big issue in the campaign?), and others dealt with the practicalities of the solar water panel proposal.

Anyway, I’d be interested in your thoughts.

12 Comments Posted

  1. Just came across this Bonus Joules column on Scoop, which criticises the Greens Energy Policy as being unhelpful – he or she even awards the Greens a Energy Gobbledygook Flat Earth Award. But reading the incredibly disjointed and confusing commentary I found it impossible to work out exactly what the author has against the Green Energy Policy, other than an assertion that our policy uses the “symbols” and language of the corporate electricity companies and that this is a bad thing.

    Oh well, maybe someone else will have more success at decyphering this article, maybe there are some lessons for how Green policy documents are written.

  2. Overall I think the policy is good – we do need much more consideration given to reducing and making more efficient our energy usage. Increasing supply will not solve all our problems – some of which are excess.

    A question I have, and it is partly related to Energy, and partly SOE management – what is the Green Party position on the ability of SOE’s to utilise cross-border leases to effectively sell our energy infrastructure assets like the South Island power grid being sold to the Wachovia Corporation (an American business, deal completed Dec 2003 under Michael Cullens watchful eye). I personnally believe it is inappropriate for the government to allow the sale of core aspects of our energy infrastructure to foreign managers. I believe that the HVDC link from Benmore to Haywards has also been ‘sold’.

  3. They’re just scared. Big business always loves the energy industry.
    This policy has some great stuff in it and will be really useful for my current energy policy assignment! *grin*

  4. yes sock you’re absolutely right that solar electricity generation is not really a goer – as well as expensive maintenance it is very expensive and energy instensive to produce the current generation of precious metal containing solar cells (maybe the next generation of nanotechnology organic cells will be better). This is why the Greens proposal only involves solar water heating which is a very low technology solution – exactly the same principle as those solar showers that people take camping. Not sure if the Greens proposal specifies whether passive is the prefered version (i.e. works using natural convection currents so doesn’t need electricity to circulate the water). And of course we also mention solar space heating (which again can be passive, or can involve electric fans to circulate the air and open and close shutters).

    Dissapointing to see the media coverage. Only found these on the web:

    Like Phil, I also can’t understand the reaction of Business New Zealand. The Greens also recognise that sufficient electricity generation capacity is vital for the NZ economy, we just propose different ways of meeting the demand. Maybe some of the right-wing posters here can help explain this theory:

    Business New Zealand executive director Phil O’Reilly said the price of the Greens’ energy policy would be no economic growth given New Zealand’s reliance on electricity generation for growth.

    Not allowing the building of new coal-fired power stations was anti-growth.

    How does it follow that replacing unenvironmentally-friendly inefficient expensive “Think Big” electricity generation schemes with environmentally-friendly efficient cost-effective small scale localised electricity generation schemes will automatically lead to no economic growth?

  5. ya had to have a hoot at the electricity industries’ reaction to the solar hotwater plan…they said this would cause prices to rise as it would cause power surges..
    does anyone know wtf they were on about..?

    btw jeanette performed well on nat rad this morning on this topic..


  6. Having read Fitzsimons’ piece, its seems to be just about passive solar heating rather than electricity generation so my comment is not as relevant.

  7. A recent New Scientist article looked at the solar power programmes in Northern Australia. One factor that had been overlooked was the ongoing maintenance of what is really quite complex equipment. Many of the subsidised solar power units were either not functioning or functioning poorly after a short period of time. It’s worth learning from that if we want to go down this road. We would have to create an ongoing technical support infrastructure.

  8. Electricity has a fixed charge in New Zealand? I was always taught that electricity had a negative charge… all those electrons…

    More seriously, I didn’t know electricity was on a fixed rate in New Zealand. Learn something new everyday.

  9. You talk about the fixed charge for electricity as if it is a government charge, but it is not, and generally having politicians set pricing models for companies can lead to disasters. Why not allow people to choose for themselves if they want a plan which has a fixed charge, or a plan which does not.

  10. well obviously I’m biased, but I think the policy and all the related documents are great – very well thought out practical solutions to the severe energy problems we will face in a post-cheap oil world.

    The half a million solar water heaters idea is brilliant:

    Previous comments on frogblog have asked where are the Greens proposals on energy and peak oil abatement. Well here they are (especially in the first major section of the full policy, 1. Responding to the challenge of the end of cheap oil:
    Looking forward to lots of media coverage!

  11. I’m very keen to see the Green’s set the agenda for public conversation on energy as an election issue. I see it as one of the under-debated issues that will determine the economic and social landscape of the next decades.
    I remember reading the MED’s economic forecasting has been based on the price of oil remaining basically static through till 2020 and despairing that policy wonks could be so far removed from reality.
    I can hear the squeals of protest from the Right at the ‘distortion of the solar panel market’ already…

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