Meridian moves to kill competition from solar homes

Big electricity companies are using their power to make it harder for families and businesses wanting to go solar and the National Government is doing nothing to help them, the Green Party said today.

Meridian Energy announced today a 60-72 percent cut in the rate it buys excess solar from homes and businesses. Meridian’s current buy-back rates are 25 cents for the first 5 kWh per day and 10 cents thereafter. The new rates will be 7 cents/kWh in summer and 10 cents/kWh in winter (1 May to 30 September). Contact Energy announced over the weekend a similar massive reduction to its buy-back rate, cutting the price paid for excess electricity generated from 17 cents/kWh to 8 cents/kWh.

“Meridian and Contact are using their market power to act unfairly towards those who are investing in solar,” said Gareth Hughes, Green Party energy spokesperson.

“It is another kick in the guts for the fast-growing solar industry and highlights the electricity companies have all the power to set the buy-back rates, terms, and conditions and the customers just have to take whatever is offered to them.

“It is time the Government broke the monopoly behaviour of our power companies and established an independent umpire to set fair rate for buying surplus energy giving small-scale electricity producers greater contract certainty.

Under National, power prices have continued to rise, up 27 percent since 2008 despite residential demand falling by 3 percent. As a result of this and the falling cost of solar panels, solar generation jumped by 30 percent last year.

“Installing solar panels is becoming an increasingly smart option for families and businesses yet this Government is failing to support them with fair rules for the sale of excess electricity,” said Mr Hughes.

“We can support clean solar energy without subsidies by simply empowering the Electricity Authority to set a fair and reasonable buy-back rate

“My simple Member’s Bill would assist the thousands of Kiwis wanting to go solar and make it easy for families to generate their own clean power and to receive a fair payment for it,” said Mr Hughes.

Meridian’s announcement:

More information on the Electricity Industry (Small Scale Renewable Distributed Generation) Amendment Bill: