Hearing the news of a proposed amendment to the Electricity Industry Act courtesy of Green's MP Gareth Hughes, a collective sigh of relief could almost be heard across New Zealand. For far too long everyday Kiwis have been under the thumb of fossil fuel industry/economy, paying some of the largest electricity bills in the western world, while simultaneously destroying our once pristine environment.
The current government is a champion for the fossil fuel energy producers of yesteryear, begrudgingly moving towards clean electricity production at a snails pace. Electricity production is big business, and big business is doing all it can to restrict the solar power industry in New Zealand. The proposed amendment seeks to unshackle the chains that currently bind our electricity marketplace.
So what does the amendment actually do? Simply put, the amendment allows solar consumers a fair go. Better buy back rates are much more appealing for those currently on the fence about having a solar power system installed, and significantly beneficial for those who are already connected with a solar power system. The amendment will come up in parliament before November 2015 once there is confidence it will have the numbers to get through the first reading.
The amendment would see the Electricity Authority act as an official arbitrator, setting buy back rates for small-scale renewable power generation, such as solar or wind farming. The Electricity Authority will develop the appropriate pricing regime with stakeholders, based on a logical formula that does not disadvantage stakeholders. No longer will energy retailers buy back renewable energy at what ever price they want.
Consumers, manufacturers, distributors and entrepreneurs all stand to benefit from the amendment should it be passed through government.
The battle for clean energy has been long fought in the halls of Parliament, and of course we hope it will continue to be, but this amendment to the clean energy bill is something of a milestone for all those concerned about the state of the solar/clean energy industry in New Zealand.
Green Party MP Gareth Hughes proposed the Bill in his name, he states "A small law change is all that is needed to give thousands of Kiwis going solar a fair go, my Bill will empower an independent umpire to set a fair buy-back rate and establish standardised contracts to provide certainty and fairness for all."
We here at MSQ we pretty excited when we got wind of this particular amendment act, despite where you may stand politically, all involved in the solar/clean energy industry are set to benefit from the proposed changes, and for that, we tip our hat to the Green party for initiating the bill. Change is well overdue in New Zealand's speckled energy industry, fossil fuels are on their way out, and clean energy for the future is knocking at the door, the question is, when will we answer it.