Electricity market reforms needed

The Electricity Authority’s finding that an “Undesirable Trading Saturation” caused power prices to rise and extra fossil fuels to be burnt shows the need for renewed focus on electricity market reforms, the Green Party said today.

“Power companies were supposed to be on notice to behave responsibly following the previous Government’s Electricity Price Review, but just a few months after that review it looks like Meridian behaved in a way that increased power prices and saw extra fossil fuels being burnt instead of low-cost, clean hydro generation,” Green Party Energy and Resources spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.

“The Electricity Authority’s finding is damning, and shows that the incentive to maximise private returns to shareholders will not deliver the clean and affordable power we need.

“The Electricity Price Review’s threat of regulation and transparency requirements clearly wasn’t enough. The Government should now be looking seriously at market-making requirements, so that the big power generators must sell some of the power they generate to small retailers at a reasonable price, to improve real competition for consumers. And if that doesn’t work, we need to ask whether it’s time to talk about structural separation again.

“We have a goal as a country for 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and if the big renewables generators are choosing to spill water and let others burn coal and gas instead, that is shocking behaviour that hurts consumers’ wallets and our climate.

“We are all in this together and big, profitable energy companies must do their bit.

“I am sure the Electricity Authority conducted a thorough investigation but the fact is this happened a year ago, so consumers have already paid extra for that power and the coal and gas have already been burnt. Changing the rules about how the market operates needs to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

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