TL;DR: This is how the status quo wins, not with a hard block or a public fight, but through extended dribs and drabs of consultation that dribble away into nothing while the winners from the status quo smile, wave and wait until ‘their’ side gets back into power.
Earlier this month a damning report from a two-years-long official investigation into energy poverty was dragged into the public light of day by an OIA. Now the government department responsible for following up on its recommendations has said it has now stopped considering the report because of a change of Government.
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In which the status quo wins in dribs and drabs
The Labour Government launched its Electricity Price Review in 2018 as part of its government-forming agreement with NZ First, with the hope of making power more affordable for consumers through market reform. In the end, the review’s recommendations have dribbled away into;
the creation of a Consumer Advocacy Council that has no power to make anyone in the electricity industry do anything;
the creation of consumer guidelines that gentailers have flagrantly ignored and failed to report on because it is not mandatory;
the launch of an energy hardship review that took two years and eventually released last week, only after the use of the OIA as a last resort to pry it out of the bowels of MBIE; and,
vague recommendations to the Electricity Authority about looking at market reform that have faded away into unmonitored and stalled ‘workstreams’.
Meanwhile, the number of people who are so financially stressed they can’t afford to keep the power on continues to rise, according to the hardship review, which also noted full reporting of disconnections is still not done. The review was delivered to MBIE in July and estimated 300,000 were living in energy poverty, but was stuck in the advisory channels in front of Energy Minister Megan Woods before the machinery of Government policy advice shut down for the election.
Today, BusinessDesk-$$$’s Ian Llewellyn reported this morning MBIE had said in a statement:
“While this was under way, the report was deemed to be under active consideration. The pending change of government means the report is no longer considered under active consideration,” MBIE.
So that’s that then. Job done. Any changes that might have undercut the gentailing industry’s profits have been successfully diverted, delayed, distracted and denied through six years of reviews, workshops, consultations and advice to the minister.
MBIE’s record of the EPR’s progress speaks for itself.