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Electricity Authority price rises out of step with global shift to solar energy

Andrew Booth, CEO of New Zealand’s leading energy services company, solarcity, responds to the Electricity Authority’s papers on transmission and distributed energy pricing released this morning. The EA is recommending charging consumers living in Auckland, Northland and the South Island’s West Coast, more for power due to the costs of maintaining the electricity network in those regions.

“The Electricity Authority makes it clear that it will cost millions of dollars to update and keep New Zealand’s ageing electricity infrastructure running yet ignores smart new technologies available here now, like solar and batteries, that are revolutionising the way power is generated and distributed in many other countries.

“The utilities have a fundamental financial incentive of ‘build more to profit more,’ which conflicts with the public interest of building and maintaining an affordable grid. This financial incentive model is a vestige of how utilities have always been regulated by the EA and the Commerce Commission, a model originally constructed to encourage the expansion of electricity access which, because of technology change, is now outdated.

“If we go down this path the nation will lose the clean energy race which could otherwise deliver billions of dollars in savings for our communities and our nation.

“It doesn’t make economic sense to burden the grid and households when solar panels and batteries can generate and store power right where it’s needed without the costs and losses of distribution.

“Solar now delivers power at prices which are up to 35% less than retail energy prices - it is time to reshape the utility business model to fit 21st century technologies which strengthen the grid and reduce prices.”