Report highlights problems but lacks vision for an affordable electricity future

Media Release - 27 March 2017 - For immediate use

SEANZ (Sustainable Electricity Association New Zealand) supports the findings of a report released today that electricity pricing structures need to change but is disappointed with the proposed solutions which will only entrench the stranglehold Electricity Distribution Businesses (EDB’s) and Electricity Retailers have over low-income consumers.

The report released today by Concept Consulting contends that new technologies such as Solar PV will drive up electricity distribution prices for non-solar electricity consumers and impact the poor hardest. “Solar is one of the new technologies which has the greatest ability to reduce electricity costs for all consumers, regardless of their income. If this report was really concerned with alleviating energy poverty it would propose solutions that could provide meaningful long-term relief from electricity prices and challenge the stranglehold that the electricity industry has historically had over consumers” said Brendan Winitana, SEANZ Chairman.

“Electricity pricing structures need to change, but only in order to create competition and allow more households and businesses to generate their own electricity and sell or gift the excess to their neighbours and friends said Mr Winitana.

MBIE modelling shows that solar installed with batteries will become the norm. A report recently released by SEANZ based on this modelling shows New Zealanders could save hundreds of millions of dollars in electricity costs if conditions for high uptake of Solar PV (PV) and batteries are allowed to prevail.

Mr Winitana said “Solar and batteries will not only benefit all households by lowering peak demand and therefore the costs of the electricity network, they can reduce electricity costs through avoided greenhouse gas emissions, lower wholesale electricity costs, reduced line losses, and fuel price hedging. They could also provide households and communities with self-reliance and resilience during extreme weather and natural disasters such as the recent earthquakes.

“This report is more concerned with vilifying Solar in order to suppress competition to the incumbent industry than providing meaningful solutions to the crisis that many low-income households find themselves in" Mr Winitana said.

SEANZ research finds that the demographic of households installing solar has changed from what it was five years ago. This is supported by a report from the Queensland University of Technology which found solar was now most commonly installed by lower than average income families. SEANZ members are offering solar and battery storage in a range of offers that make it available for low-income households including no-deposit and lease-to-buy options now.

“Changes to distribution pricing structure needs to break the monopoly of EDB’s and enable these new business models which will allow everyone, regardless of home-ownership or level of income, to participate in an open fair electricity market. Only then can we significantly reduce electricity costs and reduce energy poverty for the New Zealanders who need it most" said Mr Winitana.

Ends

1. Concept Consulting Report Available here

2. MBIE modelling showing uptake of solar and batteries, 2016, ‘Electricity demand and generation scenarios’, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, New Zealand Government, March 2016

3. SEANZ report with savings to New Zealand from uptake of solar and batteries, SOLAR PV AND BATTERIES IN NEW ZEALAND – CONSUMER CENTRIC ELECTRICITY available here