Power up community-centred renewable energy solutions
Across the globe, people are resisting the expansion of fossil fuels, their social license to operate has been crushed, and the calls to phase them out are growing louder and louder – from the streets to the corridors of power. Wind and solar are producing record amount of clean electricity year after year. We are moving forward into the world we want to see!
We are inspired by communities using solutions to the climate crisis as tools of resistance in the fight against the fossil fuel industry, focusing on equitable, accessible, clean and efficient energy sources. We need to transform the systems that have propped up fossil fuel giants and transfer power and resources to those who have been marginalised and suppressed, those who are least responsible for the climate crisis and who are often the most heavily impacted. And we know this revolution is possible!
Let’s power up a cleaner, more sustainable and more equitable renewable future. Come with us!
Why? In the last 30 years, household power prices rose by 79% while commercial rates have dropped by 24%. More than 110,000 households are spending >10% of their income on power and live in energy hardship. Together we can put an end to this energy injustice and achieve solutions that benefit the people and the planet. We can push our politicians to invest in affordable clean energy and support energy sovereignty.
Call on the incoming government to address energy injustice
Our Generating Scarcity Report Update reveals that New Zealanders are missing out on their right to cleaner, more affordable energy because power companies are protecting their profits and keeping shareholders happy.
Together, we can use this report to tell our leaders that we are done with profits over people and call on them to enact meaningful change.
We strongly encourage you to personalise your email, offering a personal insight about how you are affected/what concerns you about high electricity prices and fossil fuel generation. Even if it’s only a couple of sentences - the more personal the email, the more influence you will have!
Perhaps you’d like to include a line asking to meet with the Minister. It’s unlikely the Minister will say yes to meeting with individuals. However, we think it’s still worth including, to make the point that we care about this issue. Alternatively you might like to email and meet with your local MP. If the Minister responds to you - or refuses your meeting request - we’d love for you to send this response to us at email@example.com. We’d be happy to help prepare with any meetings too.
The report reveals how the country’s largest energy companies (gentailers) have distributed billions in excess dividends to shareholders thereby preventing reinvestment in renewables and keeping power prices high.
Watch our documentary:
We Can Produce Our Own Power
Learn more about our campaign…
What does 350 Aotearoa want?
We have the privilege of being blessed with natural energy resources. Wind, sun, and geothermal energy are abundant in Aotearoa – all we need is for those in charge to support our communities so we can work together and power homes and industry with 100% renewable energy.
So what’s the problem?
Our celebrated “clean electricity grid” is actually getting dirtier. Instead of investing in wind and solar, our energy companies are firing up more coal, gas and diesel.
Our lawmakers are sitting on their hands and letting this happen. At worst, they are actively encouraging it and profiting from it as three of the 5 large gentailers are 51% owned by the government. Our Government has invested next to nothing to incentivise clean energy generation, compared to most other developed countries in the world. While a 100% renewable energy target has been set, so far the approach has been to continue to let huge companies dominate the market instead of empowering communities to be part of redesigning our energy system to make it fit for purpose. Millions of taxpayer dollars are invested in large-scale solutions such as the Lake Onslow Battery Project and green hydrogen trials. Very little funding goes to innovative projects that empower communities to address energy poverty, energy efficiency or small-scale distributed renewable electricity generation.
Why are big power companies preventing the transition?
Renewable energy generation (which is a cheaper form of electricity generation) competes directly with the Gentailers ability to make money. Part of that is because of a broken spot-market system that creates incentives for big gentailers to keep fossil fuel generation (an expensive form of electricity generation) in the system at all times to keep profits high. Gentailers also are opposed to communities generating their own electricity. Think about it. The more communities have access to homegrown power (eg. their own clean energy from the sun) the less power they buy from big generators and the grid.
Instead of embracing the benefits of renewable technologies, with lower carbon emissions, lower bills and more energy freedom, the power companies are scrambling to keep the grid dirty, dumb and one-way because it protects their profits.
They simply haven’t kept up with the technological developments in their industry. The utilities should have been following the trends and preparing for this years ago. Now they are scrambling to protect their assets through dirty deals that discourage the natural transition towards cleaner, cheaper decentralised energy. Regular New Zealanders are missing out on their right to cleaner, more affordable energy because power companies are protecting their profits.
Why transition to renewables?
“The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.” ~ Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Ex Saudi Arabia Oil Minister
Renewables are the only option for a healthy ecological system. Two-thirds of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally are caused by energy production and use. Fossil fuels (FF) releasing carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury compounds and methane are the main culprit. In contrast, wind and solar emit zero GHG when generating energy. Carbon emitted during the construction of solar and wind plantations is vastly lower in comparison to the carbon emissions from fossil fuel plants. Even though other renewable energy (RE) sources such as geothermal and bioenergy release carbon in their use, their overall emissions remain extremely low in comparison to the ones from coal, oil, and gas. Our campaign is aiming for much better, not perfect!
In terms of power generation capacity, RE surpasses fossil fuels simply because as the name implies it has no end. For RE, we use sunlight, wind, water that continuously replenish and are the safest, cheapest, healthiest, and fairest without any doubt.
What is energy sovereignty?
Energy sovereignty is the right of individuals, communities and peoples to make their own decisions on energy generation, distribution and consumption in a way that is appropriate within their ecological, social, economic and cultural circumstances, provided that these do not affect others negatively.
In other words, it calls for expanding public participation in the renewable energy transition and the broader functioning of the energy sector. One of the main pillars of renewable energy sovereignty is localising energy consumption and production. Thereby ensuring that power is no longer held by the same structures that have fuelled the climate crises and perpetuated oppression and injustice But this does not mean the creation of isolated units. Instead, interconnectedness between regions is a must (where geography allows). In this way, problems regarding fluctuations in energy supply can be overcome.
Furthermore, regional interconnectivity should go beyond national borders. Regional scheme for interconnectivity pools renewable energy capacity across a wider territory.
What are Community Energy Projects?
Community energy projects refers to energy activities that directly benefit or are controlled by citizens and energy users.The term citizen, rather than consumer is intentional: community energy is about more than individual consumers and it centers focus on the power of collective and citizen-based initiatives.
Activities can include building new power generation, reducing energy usage, lowering retail costs for citizens, distributing power, building energy storage and peer to peer sharing systems. Internationally there is growing interest in the area of community and citizen energy because it can address challenges crucial for the low carbon energy transition. These include spreading financial gains more broadly, developing energy literacy, helping to address project opposition and engaging a wide range of community members who have traditionally not been involved in driving change in the sector. (Reference: Community Energy Network)
What is the government’s role in facilitating a transition to renewables?
There are many ways in which the New Zealand government (and governments around the world) can support a transition to renewables.
Policies are crucially important to initiate a transition. Strong policies prioritising and promoting renewable energy (RE) are essential. For instance, both Germany and Spain have been forerunners of the energy transition. However, their transition stagnated partly because of policy drawbacks and changes. Therefore, policies regarding regulations, mandates, and subsidies as well as designs of infrastructure, markets, and industry should be flexible and resilient in terms of overcoming new challenges arising from changing conditions.
What we need is a favourable regulatory framework and policies that make setting up decentralized and flexible energy systems, not just possible but attractive.
For that reason, the policies we are calling on the government are easy and quick to realise (solar on all new community housing), empowering for communities wanting to lead the change (zero-interest loans for household solar and grant funding for community energy schemes), and revolutionary so the days of fossil fuel companies profiting from our energy injustices are over (national strategy to get energy production, transmission, distribution and pricing back under public control by 2025).
In New Zealand electricity is generated by 5 major electricity-generating companies. Genesis Energy, Mercury and Meridian Energy operate under a mixed ownership model in which the government holds a majority stake, while Contact and Trustpower are private sector companies. Having part ownership over 3 of the electricity-generating companies means with the public support and pressure, the government can also bring upon the necessary change within those companies and break free from our broken energy system.
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