INDEPENDENT NEWS

Solar tax to be taken to hearing

Published: Wed 1 Feb 2017 10:43 AM
Solar tax to be taken to hearing
Auckland, 01 February 2017 - A complaint that lines company Unison Networks breached the electricity industry code when it introduced a solar tax last year has won the right to a full hearing after it was earlier rejected by New Zealand’s electricity watchdog.
The Electricity Rulings Panel, which will review the complaint made by New Zealand’s leading solar energy services company, solarcity, to the Electricity Authority, says the issues around Unison’s tariff need to be “fully tested.”
“For months, we have been fighting for our right to challenge the legality of Unison’s tax which wrongfully disadvantages solar users,” says solarcity CEO Andrew Booth. “It's only fair that this dispute is heard by an independent body, something Unison has done its best to prevent."
Last year Unison said electricity customers in Hawke’s Bay, Rotorua and Taupo areas that installed rooftop solar after April 1, 2016 would be charged an extra fee for their lines connection. It plans to extend that tax to all solar power users in its region from April 1, 2019 (1).
“Unison is discriminating against its smartest, most energy aware customers and is charging up to an extra $239 per year without providing any extra services. That effectively makes it a tax on solar,” said Booth.
Unison challenged Greenpeace for using the word “tax” to describe the extra fee in its advertising campaign to have it scrapped. The Advertising Standards Authority ruled there were no grounds to proceed saying the word “tax”was considered appropriate by some because the charges were compulsory and were a demand on people’s resources (2).
Three separate complaints about Unison’s solar tax were lodged with the Electricity Authority. It ruled that Unison had not breached the Electricity Industry Participation Code (3). Solarcity challenged this decision by taking it to the Electricity Rulings Panel, an independent appeals authority.
Solarcity had insisted on a hearing, including citing the 13th Century Magna Carta saying justice denied was justice delayed. In a written decision the panel rejected Unison’s request to disallow a hearing.
“We consider that a hearing is an opportunity for the issues to be fully tested by allowing the tribunal to observe the demeanour of witnesses, and to ask questions,” said Booth.
A date for the Electricity Rulings Panel hearing has yet to be set.
Booth says it is likely Unison’s solar tax will be consigned to history as a bad idea.
“These kinds of approaches by monopolies to try and stop solar won’t work. Similar moves in Spain, Sweden and south Australia have all failed.(4) Here in New Zealand Vector, Orion, Network Tasman and Powerco have told us they have no intention of introducing a solar tax.
With climate change being the major threat facing the world it’s vital all countries do everything possible to encourage the shift to clean energy.”
Vector CEO, Simon Mackenzie, has long held the view that solar is absolutely part of New Zealand's clean energy future and it is important to not penalise particular technologies.
With wide scale reform of electricity pricing being called for by regulators it is vital the customer is at the centre of how pricing could change. In addition, Vector has just commenced customer engagement and trials as part of this and will not be seeking to target solar prosumers who are an exciting addition to a new energy future.
At the end of last year Greenpeace delivered a petition signed by 45,000 Kiwis calling on the Electricity Authority to support solar energy and prohibit electricity providers from penalising solar users.(5)
Notes
1. http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/regional/300397/new-solar-panel-charge-kicks-in
2. http://www.asa.co.nz//backend/documents/2016/12/01/16368.pdf
3. https://www.ea.govt.nz/about-us/media-and-publications/media-releases/2016/12-july-2016/
4. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-sweden-solar-tax-idUSKBN13G1G8
http://www.pv-tech.org/news/spains-new-minority-government-a-blessing-in-disguise-for-big-solar
http://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/solar-tax-sa-em5265/
5) http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1610/S00154/tiki-taane-and-greenpeace-protest-solar-tax.htm
ends

Next in Business, Science, and Tech

COVID-19 Sees Record 12.2 Percent Fall In New Zealand’s Economy
By: Statistics New Zealand
Scientists Release ‘Blueprint’ To Save Critical Ecosystems And Stabilize The Earth’s Climate
By: Joint Press Release
Independent Review Launched Into Assurances For Safe Transport Of Livestock By Sea
By: Ministry For Primary Industries
New Zealand PC Market Grows Nearly 40% Due To Work From Home Demand
By: IDC New Zealand Ltd
Whale-watching By Satellite – Follow Their Travels Online
By: University of Auckland
Kiwibank Admits System Failures And Agrees To Pay Customers $5.2 Million
By: Commerce Commission
Public Transport Distancing Requirements Relaxed
By: Ministry of Health
New Zealand Hemp Industry Set To Generate $2 Billion Per Annum And Create 20,000 Jobs
By: New Zealand Hemp Industries Association Inc
One In 14 Employed People Report High Risk Of Losing Jobs
By: Statistics New Zealand
ASB Quarterly Economic Forecast Shows NZ Economy Doing Better Than Expected, But Challenges Remain
By: ASB
Successful Bridge Repair Opens Two Additional Lanes To Traffic
By: New Zealand Transport Agency
Engineers Assess Damage To Auckland Harbour Bridge After Truck Strike
By: NZ Transport Agency
Motorists Urged To Avoid Damaged Auckland Harbour Bridge
By: NZ Transport Agency
Harbour Bridge: Public Transport A Great Option And Plan Ahead
By: Auckland Transport
Second Harbour Crossing Needed Now, More Than Ever
By: New Zealand National Party
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media