On a chilly morning on the 4th of October, the Operations Manager of Transpower, Stephen Jay, said they forecast that the electricity demand later in the week would peak within the top 1% of historical ranges for this time of year [1]. With only 81% of our electricity generation deriving from renewable sources, we know that during peak hours coal and oil power stations kick in to fill the gap.

As the last form of generation (ie. fossil fuels) to bid into the market determines the price of every kw/h generated, the price for electricity has currently shot up drastically. While whānau across the motu are struggling to make ends meet in this cost of living crisis and are rubbing their hands trying to stay warm, the fossil fuel industry and energy mafia are rubbing their hands with Dagobert Duck dollar signs in their eyes excited to write their next shareholder report about their record profits.

In recent years, Aotearoa has been increasing fossil fuel use for electricity generation at a time when we urgently need to decarbonise our society to tackle climate change. With an increase in coal power generation, we’ll also see an increase in power prices which makes it even more difficult for people to heat their homes! [2]

But it doesn’t need to be this way. We can push our politicians to invest in affordable clean energy and introduce policies that will strengthen energy sovereignty. 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.

While we can’t control future polar blasts from happening, we can influence how much coal will be used in the coming years by advocating for just solutions that benefit our communities and planet. While we can’t stop people from freezing this week, we can cry out that this is an injustice we will no longer tolerate and demand that our leaders take action.

We absolutely can achieve homegrown energy solutions!
Join our call for Community Energy.

Author: Alva Feldmeier

[1] Stuff: Polar blast – Will the electricity system cope? 
[2] 350 Aotearoa: New Zealand’s electricity market