Our movement is calling for a fast and just transition to 100% renewable energy because we can’t keep powering our lives with polluting fuels from the last century.
Only 81%* of our electricity generation in Aotearoa is fossil free (not generated using coal, oil, or gas). *Renewable Share (%) – June 2022 (Quarterly electricity generation data from MBIE)
In the last 30 years, household power prices rose by 79% while commercial rates have dropped by 24%. More than 100 000 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.
We can’t keep powering our lives with polluting fuels from last century that keep damaging our climate, our neighbourhoods, and our health. The fossil fuel industry is greedily lining its pockets and five major power companies in New Zealand profit from burning coal. Meanwhile, our communities suffer from stronger floods, droughts, polluted air, blackouts and soaring energy bills (in the last 30 years households power prices rose by 79%). Vulnerable communities are at the forefront of these devastating impacts.
Community energy is critical for a just and equitable transition to renewable electricity and tackling energy hardship. This is why we are asking our Government and Hon Megan Woods (Minister for Energy and Resources) to make a commitment and release a strategy before the general election in 2023 that will help Aotearoa achieve 750MW community energy generation and 400MW community storage by 2035.
We need to draw a line in the sand and speak up against our broken energy system and put an end to energy injustice. We can push our politicians to invest in affordable clean energy and introduce policies that will strengthen energy sovereignty. Will you join our fight for climate justice and start advocating for solutions?
We have the technology available to power our lives without killing our planet and harming our communities. Getting to 100% renewable energy electricity is 100% doable. We can have homegrown and locally-produced energy and stop being reliant on the fossil fuel industry. Renewable energy projects create more investment across the economy. More community-controlled renewable energy will give people greater access to and ownership over their local energy systems and strengthen community ties.
I call for homegrown energy solutions to end the energy crisis and injustice in Aotearoa!
Join our call on Hon Dr Megan Woods (Minister for Energy and Resources) and the Government to end our energy injustice and commit to community energy targets.
Community energy is critical for a just and equitable transition to renewable electricity. This is why we are asking our Government to make a commitment and release a strategy before the general election in 2023 that will help Aotearoa achieve 750MW community energy generation and 400MW community storage by 2035.
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.
In August 2022, our grassroots groups across Aotearoa launched campaigns to call on their cities councils to support Homegrown Energy solutions. Check out their demands and sign on to support our active campaigns in the following locations:
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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