Sunday, 23 February 2014
I checked my letter box, after coming home from a day long meeting, only to find a letter from my electricity retailer, one which is struggling to see it's share price reach the giddy heights the government said was the lower limit for the share prices as they sold off equity up to 49%. Which on international average sees power price rises of 12% to provide shareholder income
It seems their cunning plan, and we always knew this was likely, was to raise prices, In my case 17%. My retailer does 2 year contracts.
Price rises like this are the result of deregulation of the electricity markets brought in by the National government led by Jim Bolger and Jenny Shipley, with the reforms being brought into effect in the year after Shipley took over from Jim Bolger.
Ever since we have seen a dynamic of supplier and retailers playing cat and mouse with margins, this has led to power prices doubling since the mid 1980's and 60% since 2004.
The letter I and many others got is likely part of the normal business cycle, but it is tempting to think, it is a last grasp just in case a Labour/Greens/Mana Government sets about tightening the spigot on cash-flow, from its captive market.
There seems to me to be an immorality in what the electricity market has become, the commodification of essential resources for profit of those who have access to more than they need. Just Air was commodified in Total Recall the one with Arnie, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox. At one point Cohagen who exemplifiers unaccountable fascist government, says he can do what he likes because "nobody gives a shit." As he rationalises shutting off the air supply to a large part of the Martian colony. The reality is we have a Cohagen that cuts of the the supply in the electricity market, it is the contract, and while there is no mass shut-down, people are picked off one at time as they struggle to keep up with there overly inflated bills, as their shrinking income is competed for by other essential needs, food, medical, even water in some parts.
The one thing the electricity sector fears most, just like Cohagen feared the activation of the Turbinium generator is the plentiful community controlled supply. Cohagen feared lost of profit and control. So the electricity sector agreed to the 1990's reforms on the tacit agreement that there would be no promotion of solar. Meanwhile they have been insulated by high cost solar panels, until 2-3 years ago, when china dropped the price of solar panels. Now not only has the business case changed, so has the economic case as more demand will be needed to service transport and reduce the $8b import bill for carbon fuels. Addition for economies to maintain or advance their competitiveness, they need to embrace clean energy, the economics are simply that good. It makes a nonsense of suggestions that we should embrace oil coal and gas.
In a sense just like Cohagen, legacy energy interests have created and deployed the means for their own destruction. Cohagan created Quade, fermented revolution through his oppression and set the explosive ultimately create venting that tossed him onto the Martian landscape in the near vacuum atmosphere (1% of the density of Earth's atmosphere).
Our Electricity sector has inflated power prices so much the majority of Kiwi's want government to move to fix it. Carbon fuels have changed the planet enough to make clear, our species needs to quit use 19th century fuels. And of course the exploration in political geo-political regions has killed some exploration but shifted it often to politically fraught indigenous lands. Essentially the now hat the political fights are closer to home for the these company they are harder fight, and are developing the political opposition that could, and believe should eventually kill off the industry, as we find cheaper, cleaner more abundant energy sources.
See All so:
NZ Herald - the 30year price hike