Energy & solar news summary #4

We're all about saving energy, so we've rounded up this week's solar and energy news so you don't have to.

The inequality of NZ’s power prices are highlighted in the latest survey of domestic electricity prices. Dunedin has the cheapest power while, just 80 kilometres away, homeowners in Balclutha pay the highest price. The Herald has the full list of power prices for the country’s 42 power regions.

There were three big announcements this week involving three of our major power companies.

Genesis Energy announced it will close its coal-fired Huntly power station at the end of 2018. The closure will remove about 5% of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions.

Meridian has negotiated a deal with NZ Aluminium Smelters to continue supplying power to its Tiwai plant until 2030 although the smelter could pull out as early as 2018.

Australia's Origin Energy is selling its 53% stake in New Zealand's Contact Energy. The Herald reports analysts expect a lot of interest in the shares.

On Monday President Obama announced ambitious plans to tackle climate change. The aim of the Clean Power Plan is to cut greenhouse gas emissions from US power stations by a third within 15 years and to promote renewable energies like solar and wind.

In response to the US news, Victoria Associate Professor Ralph Chapman writes in the Dominion that NZ has "spent most of the last 25 years dithering on climate change" and now's the time to be taking action. NZ's bionenergy industry agrees saying the government should see climate change targets as an opportunity for business and the economy rather than a cost.

Meanwhile the NZ Vehicle Transport Agency has been criticised for splurging billions of dollars on new roads without working out how to prepare them for use by electric vehicles.

NZ may be slow on tackling climate change but it appears the Australian Government is rejecting taking action at all. The most recent head of the National Bank of Australia has revealed the extraordinary behind-the-scenes pressure imposed by a government essentially to frustrate climate change action and to block the development of renewable energy.

With the Paris climate talks happening at the end of the year UN climate chief Christiana Figueres is expecting a good outcome but warns any agreement will only be the first step.