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Southlanders rally for fair transmission pricing

Southland’s three local authorities are encouraging Southlanders to give feedback on an electricity transmission pricing review, which would see them pay less for power compared to the current charges which benefit consumers further north.

The three councils (Gore District Council, Invercargill City Council, and Southland District Council) are asking people to support their four-week Facebook campaign, which starts today, and to make submissions to the Electricity Authority’s review of the Transmission Pricing Methodology.

The Electricity Authority started the review in 2015. Submissions are now open and close at 5pm, Friday 24 February.

Most of New Zealand’s electricity is generated from renewable energy sources that exist in remote areas, including Manapouri, and generators in the South Island currently pay the whole cost of transporting electricity between the North and South Islands.

Currently North Island users consume 80 percent of New Zealand’s power, but are only charged for 66 percent of transmission charges. The proposed review would see power grid investments occur only as they were needed, and these would only be charged to the areas using them, meaning fairer prices for consumers in other areas, like Southland.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said the current pricing undermined one of Southland’s major advantages of close proximity to hydro power generation and it was grossly unfair for Southlanders.

“Currently Southland power stations supply a large amount to the national grid, but Southland businesses miss out on the benefits from it. It is unfair to expect our local businesses to pay millions of dollars annually towards grid upgrades and infrastructure they don’t use.

“It’s a double whammy. Southlanders have to pay the full cost of getting commodities like fuel to Southland but also have to subsidise the cost of electricity transmission to the North Island,” Mr Shadbolt said.

Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks said it was an important issue not only for the Gore District and Southland, but all of New Zealand.

“What we are seeking is simply something that delivers fairness and equity. That’s not how the present system works and that needs to change,” Mr Hicks said.

Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell said the situation as it stood wasn’t conducive to enabling prosperity in the region.

“This is a regional issue and it’s important we unite strongly to ensure Southland gets a fair deal on transmission pricing.”

Southland District Mayor Gary Tong said the South just wanted a fair go.

“Southlanders shouldn’t have to pay more than their fair share in transmission costs – not subsidising costs for people living further north, especially when we pay more for other things because of where we live.

“Southlanders need to make their voice heard, and join us in calling for a change,” Mr Tong said.

You can make a submission to the Electricity Authority here (external link) . Submissions close at 5pm, Friday 24 February. Further information about the joint campaign can be found here.

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