New Zealand’s future economic growth is directly tied to our ability to access the energy required to fuel that growth, and to giving the business sector reliability of supply so it can make investment decisions.
The reality is that electricity demand is growing. Since 1995, consumption has risen by nearly 20%, while generating capacity has risen by just over 10%. It is not feasible, as Labour and the Greens believe, to just increase efficiency or reduce demand. Even with increased efficiency, demand will increase as the economy expands. National will promote household and business electricity use efficiency, but we will need more generating capacity and more transmission lines to carry that additional power. We’ll achieve this while respecting the individual rights of property owners, and we need to do it before the lights go out again.
The discovery and harnessing of indigenous oil and gas reserves is also an important part of National’s energy plan, and we will ensure that the taxation regime encourages investment in the sector.
National believes that if we are to meet our electricity and fuel demands into the future, we have to remove the barriers in the way of increased investment in electricity generation and transmission, and in the way of oil and gas exploration.
Remove any carbon tax and independently assess our obligations under Kyoto.
We will ensure that New Zealanders are not economically or environmentally disadvantaged against our key trading partners and that future infrastructural investment, such as that in the energy sector, is not put at risk.
Urgently introduce a substantive Resource Management amendment bill.
We will do this within three months of being elected, and pass it into law within nine months of being elected. To achieve timely investment in electricity generation and transmission, National will substantially speed up the processing of applications, cut the cost of processing consents, provide new mechanisms to prevent vexatious and frivolous objections, allow for direct referral to the Environment Court, and reduce the complexity of district and regional plans.
Develop an RMA national policy statement.
An RMA policy statement is needed to assist the resource consent process for electricity generation projects. We will also address the many coastal access issues that are creating mounting barriers to oil and gas exploration.
Work with the electricity industry to develop a generating and transmission plan.
It is essential that generation and transmission development occurs in a planned and timely fashion, and we will work with the sector to ensure there is adequate planning to meet future requirements.
Restructure the Electricity Commission.
It is essential that the Electricity Commission is not placed in an impossible position by being an owner of generation, a regulator of the industry and an adviser to government. We will restructure the commission to avoid these conflicts.
Allow lines companies to enter into generation.
It is better for New Zealand that lines companies invest in generation here rather than in either non-core businesses activities or in the electricity sector overseas. We will allow them to invest in generation in New Zealand with no limit on the amount they can own. We will also actively revisit the role of generating lines companies in both retailing and in the hedge market to assess whether or not policy change is needed.
Introduce transparency in billing so consumers can see where the cost of electricity lies.
Support the goals of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.
Work on practical measures to encourage more oil and gas exploration.
National acknowledges that further relieving of the tax burden, and relief of the “new-find” royalty burden, on exploration has merit. Furthermore, we recognize that many regulations create barriers to investment, such as those requiring that one explorer's production facility be accessible to a competitor. National will work with the industry on such barriers.
Appoint a Minister of Infrastructure to oversee and help push through vital infrastructure development.
New Zealand’s long-term needs and future economic growth are directly tied to our ability to access the energy required to fuel that growth, and to good roads. Labour has ignored these needs, but National will not. National’s Minister of Infrastructure will take an overview of development to ensure vital works are progressed in a timely, co-ordinated and cost-effective fashion.