web analytics

Power profits and the consumer

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 pm, April 22nd, 2013 - 15 comments
Categories: cost of living, david shearer, energy, equality, greens, labour, russel norman, treasury - Tags:

New Zealand’s energy pricing over the last twenty years was thoroughly canvassed by Dr Geoff Bertram last year in a paper presented to the Fabian Society as part of its “Light-handed Regulation” series.  The paper can be found here, and in the light of the Labour/Greens’ announcement last week about NZ Power is well worth a read.

Geoff’s summary statement is:

the unifying theme of energy sector policy since 1986 has been to facilitate the gouging of wealth, from the poor and the powerless, for the benefit of the rich, the strong, and the Treasury. The wealth transfers in energy, taken on their own, account for only a part of the enormous growth of income and wealth inequality across the New Zealand economy over the past two decades – only a few percentage points of GDP, a few billion dollars here and a few billion dollars there, have been shifted from poor to rich via electricity and gas pricing.

real-electricity-price

The paper is extensively referenced with plenty of graphs. This one is particularly relevant.

Geoff is a fiercely independent analyst and in his view all governing parties as well as state agencies bear some responsibility for the fact that consumers have been unfairly treated through the period to date.

 

At the time of writing, he saw no evidence of any will to regulate:

In New Zealand the policy landscape in relation to electricity generation and retailing remains virtually unchanged – apart from the rush by Treasury to raise several billion dollars in cash by unloading three bloated electricity SOEs onto private investors.

It is noteworthy that the political will to regulate showed up for the natural monopoly – gas pipelines and electricity networks – only after they had locked-in their wealth transfers from a shift to monopolistic limit pricing. The political will to regulate generation and retail today would put immediately at risk several billion dollars of so-called fair value” in the SOE books, which Treasury is seeking to convert to cash revenue via share floats.
These wealth transfers are not yet locked in and are subject to genuine regulatory risk – which surely provides a clue as to why there is no regulation on the horizon. Reluctantly closing the stable door after the horse has bolted – after the big wealth transfers from consumers in those sectors had been banked and locked in via balance-sheet revaluations and ownership transfers in gas and electricity networks – is much easier than tackling sectors where predation is ongoing and in mid-flight – airports and electricity gentailing being leading examples.

But at least now with NZPower there are parties with the political will to regulate monopoly price-setting.  David Shearer Labour and Russel Norman for the Greens have signalled that they will restore some balance so household and family consumers get a long-overdue fair go.

 

15 comments on “Power profits and the consumer”

  1. Thanks Mike. Good post.

    Please note wingnuts. This is the announcement of policy based on long term analysis and not short term PR exposure.

    For too long the poor and middle class have been ripped off so that the rich can become even wealthier. Time for a change.

  2. Peter 2

    Green/Labour might just be on a roll!

  3. geoff 3

    Great post Mike. How do you get Geoff Bertram’s message in the mainstream?

    • Mike Smith 3.1

      He’s pretty well used – see here http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10863083. Also Anthony Hubbard’s article in Saturday’s DomPost – couldn’t find it on line – had extensive quotes. He certainly has the information and in my view the best understanding of the way energy prices are actually set.

      • geoff 3.1.1

        He needs to be on the tele. And he needs to be helping Labour/Greens with the detail of their policies. Have you heard this?

        [audio src="http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20130423-0908-the_state_of_state_asset_sales_percent_differing_electricity_policies-048.mp3" /]

  4. Ben 4

    I wonder if Russel Norman could use that graphic in the House to force Simon Bridges to honestly answer some questions.

    (Answer: Probably not – he’d simply say “I agree with the sections between…”)

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      And Campbell nails it at the end:

      One should also note that the asset sales programme is, at this point, a total shambles. Long ago, the government lost the argument for this selldown, on any grounds of economic efficiency. At the outset, it was always going to be a marginal matter whether it would be cheaper to borrow the money rather than sell the assets – but now, the government doesn’t even try to make a case based on the actual and opportunity costs involved in such a comparison. We’re talking about losing hundreds of millions in this ideological exercise.

      The share prices have dropped, there’s no way that National are going to get a good price and they said they would only sell if they would and they’re still selling. It’s pure ideology that National are running on and it only ever benefits the rich.

  5. Huginn 6

    Thanks, Mike.

    I’ve been surprised by the lack of substance in the criticism to this proposal. Apart from the silly Chicken Licken red-peril stuff, it seems to come down to:
    -The distortion of price signals will lead to under-investment in generation in the future, and
    -This is bad for the capital markets.

    Neither of these arguments are very convincing. Price signals get distorted in imperfect markets, and that’s a justification for government intervention. And in any case, price signals aren’t the only information streams available to decision makers.

    I haven’t seen anything like a serious attempt from the current government to challenge the model, to propose an alternative model or even to cost out the alternative strategies.

    It’s weird and creepy – and disappointing because this is too important to work itself out in an intellectual vacuum.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      I haven’t seen anything like a serious attempt from the current government to challenge the model, to propose an alternative model or even to cost out the alternative strategies.

      That’s because they’re happy with the current model which enriches the rich at the expense of the many.

  6. Listen, the price signal is coming from the people huddled together in their lounges with their heat pumps switched off singing to market to market to buy a fat lie, home again home again in time to die.
    And then there is the vote signal coming next year when the NACTs and their cronies join the international 1%ers using NZ as a tax holiday stopover to visit their blind trustees.

  7. ianmac 8

    “only after they had locked-in their wealth transfers from a shift to monopolistic limit pricing.
    That point was raised this morning in the excellent Nine to Noon discussion from two experts with opposing views. Allow billions of dollars to accumulate from taxpayers dollars then sell, sell, sell.

  8. prism 9

    Green Party Energy Spokesman Gareth Hughes was good on Morning Report Radionz. Good explanation straight to the listeners, clear and mentions they have been working. Nice sound. Sounded cool and lucid and believable. Good. While listening to it, my computer has a break in the flow, so if that happens to you hang on and the rest will come forth.
    8:16 Greens say energy policy announcement timing not deliberate
    Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3 | Embed
    The Green Party says its policy to create a single purchaser of electricity was not driven by asset sales. (3′19″)

    On 9 to Noon with Kathryn Ryan this morning Geoff Bertram was a good speaker on the power proposals. Also speaking was competition-coach Carl Hansen who has the skill of talking without pause for breath and being able to marshall his words so that they fill up all the available space and maintain his verbal flow despite the effort of the interviewer to interrupt from time to time and ask a question or pose a scenario.

    wikipedia
    Carl Hansen has been the Electricity Authority’s Chief Executive since its inception in November 2010.
    and
    Geoff Bertram was until June 2009 a Senior Lecturer in Economics at Victoria. His research interests include regulation of public utility industries such as electricity, gas and telecommunications; economic and political development of small island societies with a particular focus on the Pacific; the design of policies to address climate change; and the long-run evolution of the New Zealand economy.

    • Morrissey 9.1

      Hansen was reduced to incoherent babbling. Why the hell is Bertram not on the media more often?

  9. Saccharomyces 10

    Looks to me like the biggest price rises were between 2000 and 2007…. who was in government then and what did they do about it?

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Govt supports King Country farmers to lift freshwater quality
    Healthier waterways are front and centre in a new project involving more than 300 King Country sheep, beef and dairy farmers. The Government is investing $844,000 in King Country River Care, a group that helps farmers to lift freshwater quality and farming practice, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. “Yesterday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Support for arts and music sector recovery
    A jobseekers programme for the creative sector and four new funds have been set up by the Government to help our arts and music industry recover from the blow of COVID-19. Thousands of jobs will be supported through today’s $175 million package in a crucial economic boost to support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Legislative changes to support the wellbeing of veterans and their families
    Minister for Veterans Ron Mark has welcomed the First Reading of a Bill that will make legislative changes to further improve the veterans’ support system.  The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2, which will amend the Veterans’ Support Act 2014, passed First Reading today. The bill addresses a number of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Christ Church Cathedral – Order in Council
    Views sought on Order in Council to help fast track the reinstatement of the Christ Church Cathedral  The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Hon Poto Williams, will be seeking public written comment, following Cabinet approving the drafting of an Order in Council aimed at fast-tracking the reinstatement of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealanders’ human rights better protected in new Bill
    The law setting out New Zealanders’ basic civil and human rights is today one step towards being strengthened following the first reading of a Bill that requires Parliament to take action if a court says a statute undermines those rights. At present, a senior court can issue a ‘declaration of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Deep concern at Hong Kong national security legislation
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today reiterated the deep concern of the New Zealand Government following confirmation by China’s National People’s Congress of national security legislation relating to Hong Kong. “New Zealand shares the international community’s significant and long-standing stake in Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability,” Mr Peters said. “New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government invests in New Zealand’s cultural recovery
    Thousands of artists and creatives at hundreds of cultural and heritage organisations have been given much-needed support to recover from the impact of COVID-19, Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Jacinda Ardern announced today. “The cultural sector was amongst the worst hit by the global pandemic,” Jacinda ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Better protection for New Zealand assets during COVID-19 crisis
    Key New Zealand assets will be better protected from being sold to overseas owners in a way contrary to the national interest, with the passage of the Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Bill. The Bill, which passed its third reading in Parliament today, also cuts unnecessary red tape to help attract ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Cleaning up our rivers and lakes
    Setting higher health standards at swimming spots Requiring urban waterways to be cleaned up and new protections for urban streams Putting controls on higher-risk farm practices such as winter grazing and feed lots Setting stricter controls on nitrogen pollution and new bottom lines on other measures of waterway health Ensuring ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Record year for diversity on Govt boards
    The Government is on the verge of reaching its target of state sector boards and committees made up of at least 50 percent women, says Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter and Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa. For the first time, the Government stocktake measures the number of Māori, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New appointments to the Commerce Commission
    The Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister and Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister, Kris Faafoi, has today announced the appointment of Tristan Gilbertson as the new Telecommunications Commissioner and member of the Commerce Commission. “Mr Gilbertson has considerable experience in the telecommunications industry and a strong reputation amongst his peers,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Historic pay equity settlement imminent for teacher aides
    The Ministry of Education and NZEI Te Riu Roa have agreed to settle the pay equity claim for teacher aides, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. This will see more than 22,000 teacher aides, mostly women, being valued and paid fairly for the work they do. “Teacher aides are frontline ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Govt delivers security for construction subcontractors
    Subcontractors will have greater certainty, more cashflow support and job security with new changes to retention payments under the Construction Contracts Act says Minister for Building and Construction, Jenny Salesa. A recent review of the retentions money regime showed that most of the building and construction sector is complying with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand and Singapore reaffirm ties
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have marked the first anniversary of the New Zealand-Singapore Enhanced Partnership with a virtual Leaders’ Meeting today. The Enhanced Partnership, signed on 17 May 2019, provides the framework for cooperation across the four main areas of trade, defence and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • JOINT STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTERS OF NEW ZEALAND AND THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE ON THE FIRST AN...
    On 17 May 2019, New Zealand and Singapore established an Enhanced Partnership to elevate our relations. The Enhanced Partnership – based on the four pillars of trade and economics, security and defence, science, technology and innovation, and people-to-people links – has seen the long-standing relationship between our countries strengthen over the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government investment supports the acquisition of new Interislander ferries
    State-Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters has welcomed KiwiRail’s announcement that it is seeking a preferred shipyard to build two new rail-enabled ferries for the Cook Strait crossing. “This Government is committed to restoring rail to its rightful place in New Zealand. Bigger, better ships, with new technology are yet another ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Better protection for seabirds
    Better protection for seabirds is being put in place with a new National Plan of Action to reduce fishing-related captures, Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced today.   The National Plan of Action for Seabirds 2020 outlines our commitment to reduce fishing-related captures and associated seabird ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Milestone in cash flow support to SMEs
    Almost $1 billion in interest-free loans for small businesses More than 55,000 businesses have applied; 95% approved Average loan approx. $17,300 90% of applications from firms with ten or fewer staff A wide cross-section of businesses have applied, the most common are the construction industry, accommodation providers, professional firms, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government protects kids as smoking in cars ban becomes law
    Thousands of children will have healthier lungs after the Government’s ban on smoking in cars with kids becomes law, says Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa. This comes after the third reading of Smoke-free Environments (Prohibiting Smoking in Motor Vehicles Carrying Children) Amendment Bill earlier today. “This law makes it ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Parliament returns to a safe normal
    The special Epidemic Response Committee (ERC) has successfully concluded its role, Leader of the House Chris Hipkins said today. The committee was set up on 25 March by the agreement of Parliament to scrutinise the Government and its actions while keeping people safe during levels 4 and 3 of lockdown. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Foreign Minister makes four diplomatic appointments
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced four diplomatic appointments: New Zealand’s Ambassador to Belgium, High Commissioners to Nauru and Niue, and Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism. “As the world seeks to manage and then recover from COVID-19, our diplomatic and trade networks are more important than ever,” Mr Peters said. “The ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Bill to counter violent extremism online
    New Zealanders will be better protected from online harm through a Bill introduced to Parliament today, says Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin. “The internet brings many benefits to society but can also be used as a weapon to spread harmful and illegal content and that is what this legislation targets,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Mycoplasma bovis eradication reaches two year milestone in good shape
    New Zealand’s world-first plan to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is on track the latest technical data shows, says Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. “Two years ago the Government, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand and industry partners made a bold decision to go hard and commit ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New payment to support Kiwis through COVID
    Further support for New Zealanders affected by 1-in-100 year global economic shock 12-week payment will support people searching for new work or retraining Work programme on employment insurance to support workers and businesses The Government today announced a new temporary payment to support New Zealanders who lose their jobs due ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • PGF reset helps regional economies
    The Provincial Growth Fund will play a vital role in New Zealand’s post-COVID-19 recovery by creating jobs in shorter timeframes through at least $600 million being refocused on projects with more immediate economic benefits, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced. The funding is comprised of repurposed Provincial Growth ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government exempts some home improvements from costly consents
    Government exempts some home improvements from costly consents Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector to fire back up quicker ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Concern at introduction of national security legislation for Hong Kong
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says the New Zealand Government has reacted with concern at the introduction of legislation in China’s National People’s Congress relating to national security in Hong Kong.  “We have a strong interest in seeing confidence maintained in the ‘one country, two systems’ principle under which Hong ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Samoa Language Week theme is perfect for the post-COVID-19 journey
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio, says the theme for the 2020 Samoa Language Week is a perfect fit for helping our Pacific communities cope with the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, and to prepare now for the journey ahead as New Zealand focuses on recovery plans and rebuilding New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Adult kakī/black stilt numbers soar
    A nearly 40-year programme to protect one of New Zealand’s most critically endangered birds is paying off, with a record number of adult kakī/black stilt recently recorded living in the wild, the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced today. “Thanks to the team effort involved in the Department of Conservation’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Waikato-Tainui settlement story launched on 25th anniversary of Treaty signing
    The story of the Waikato-Tainui Treaty process and its enduring impact on the community is being told with a five-part web story launched today on the 25th anniversary of settlement, announced Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni. “I am grateful to Waikato-Tainui for allowing us to help capture ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Taita College to benefit from $32 million school redevelopment
    Taita College in the Hutt Valley will be redeveloped to upgrade its ageing classrooms and leaky roofs, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. “The work is long overdue and will make a lasting difference to the school for generations to come,” Chris Hipkins said. “Too many of our schools are ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Redeployment for workers in hard-hit regions
    The Government is allocating $36.72 million to projects in regions hard hit economically by COVID-19 to keep people working, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. Projects in Hawke’s Bay, Northland, Rotorua and Queenstown will be funded from the Government’s $100 million worker ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • $35m to build financial resilience for New Zealanders
    A $35m boost to financial capability service providers funded by MSD will help New Zealanders manage their money better both day to day and through periods of financial difficulty, announced Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni. “It’s always been our position to increase support to key groups experiencing or at risk ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New District Court Judge appointed
    Dunedin barrister Melinda Broek has been appointed as a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction to be based in Rotorua, Attorney-General David Parker announced today. Ms Broek has iwi affiliations to Ngai Tai. She commenced her employment in 1996 with Scholefield Cockroft Lloyd in Invercargill specialising in family and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • $206 million investment in upgrades at Ohakea Air Force Base
    The Coalition Government has approved a business case for $206 million in upgrades to critical infrastructure at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea, with the first phase starting later this year, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. The investment will be made in three phases over five years, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Review of CAA organisational culture released
    Transport Minister Phil Twyford today released the Ministry of Transport’s review of the organisational culture at the Civil Aviation Authority. Phil Twyford says all employees are entitled to a safe work environment. “I commissioned this independent review due to the concerns I had about the culture within the CAA, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Board appointed at Stats NZ
    Ensuring that Stats NZ’s direction and strategy best supports government policy decisions will be a key focus for a new Governance Advisory Board announced today by the Minister for Statistics, James Shaw. The new Governance Advisory Board will provide strategic advice to Stats NZ to ensure it is meeting New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Principal Environment Judge
    Environment Judge David Kirkpatrick of Auckland has been appointed as the Principal Environment Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  Judge Kirkpatrick was appointed an Environment Judge in February 2014. From December 2013 to July 2016 he was Chair of the Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel. Prior to appointment he ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Digital connectivity boost for urban marae
    A programme to connect marae around the country to the internet has received $1.4 million to expand to include urban marae in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. The funding for the Marae Connectivity Programme ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt increases assistance to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers
    The Government will provide $500,000 to the Hawke’s Bay Mayoral Drought Relief Fund to help farmers facing one of the worst droughts in living memory, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “Yesterday afternoon I received a letter from Hawke's Bay's five local Government leaders asking me to contribute to the Fund. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago