In June there are workshops being held about the Electricity Authority’s transmission pricing proposal. Yawn, perhaps, until you get the power bill.
Check the relevant dates in the link, and show you can attend by confirming to this email address.
They will of course be expecting just the Usual Suspects to turn up like the Major Electricity Users Association, the key investors in electricity generation, and of course staff of the generators themselves.
The Authority has been quite smart by publicising their forecasts that some regions will do great with charging decreases, but Auckland gets it in the neck. They don’t tell you whether a single consumer will notice any difference in their power bills, once the local utilities and lines companies fiddle with their billing. They don’t tell you if they have a functioning mechanism for holding the billing of lines companies to account. They should.
The Electricity Authority claims in their forecasts that Invercargill’s charges will go down $64, but Ashburton’s will go up between $102 and $117, for example. The Chief Executive of the Electricity Authority, Carl Hansen, said the regions seeing an increase were those that had benefited from substantial recent grid upgrades, or where transmission prices had been lower than average.
He forgot to tell you how much lee-way the big users are going to get, with great sweetener deals for businesses like Rio Tinto Aluminium in Bluff. They can apply for more “relief” on top of the $21 million of grid costs they are already ducking. Prior to listing on the stock exchange, Meridian just sucked that up.
In the south of Auckland, New Zealand Steel faces a 263% increase in its grid charges. Guaranteed they will also get “relief”. If you’ve ever been there, it’s a small town. Also Oji Fibre Solutions (formerly Carter Holt Harvey). Also Whangarei’s New Zealand Refining.
And wait there’s more.
The Authority is also proposing to remove all special pricing arrangements for small solar and wind generators who link to a local lines network, rather than the national lines network. That will become a significant disincentive for small-scale sustainable generators. Meaning, the big corporate generators capture more of the market and the smaller ones get less of a chance. Community-initiated generation proposals like Dunedin’s Blueskin Bay get that much harder.
I’m not for a moment saying that the Authority is biased against citizens or communities. I’m definitely not saying that by publishing forecast savings by region they are playing a nasty divide-and rule game. I am saying that the Electricity Authority should be able to easily demonstrate to citizens their legislated task to run and price a national grid within national interest tests.
But perhaps it is time for citizens to turn up to these Electricity Authority briefings and not leave this stuff to the usual black suits, specialist consultants, asset management planners, and the like.
This review started nine years ago. For my ten cents, the Electricity Authority doesn’t demonstrate to citizens that it has value being placed outside of Ministerial Authority. It takes too long, worships fat corporations, doesn’t listen to citizens, and hasn’t made a peep about changing our generator mix away from coal and moving to 100% sustainable generation. Time to run the grid from a person who faces consumer pressure every day, amplified through the media: a Minister.
Maybe the Salvation Army would like to turn up to these briefings, or some of the unions, or some NGOs who stick up for the poor and homeless and cold.
Read up from their site, turn up, and let the Electricity Authority hear from citizens.