Meeting looks at solar panel charges

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Green MP Gareth Hughes.
Green MP Gareth Hughes.

A "Stop the Solar Charge in Hawke's Bay" meeting will be held tomorrow with Green MP Gareth Hughes.

The party's energy spokesman will join Jon Farquharson from Hawke's Bay Solar and Sebastian Nilsson from Gold Power Solar to discuss how regulators and power companies should be encouraging solar technology, "not penalising it" with new charges on people with solar panels.

This follows Hawke's Bay electricity company Unison announcing the introduction of an extra charge for people with solar panels or battery storage of up to 26 per cent of a customer's bill.

"People who live in Hawke's Bay have found themselves on the front lines of the electricity industry's reaction to the popularity of new solar technology," Mr Hughes said.

"Hiking power bills by 25 per cent for solar customers is the wrong way for power companies to deal with new technology," he said.

"People in sunny Hawke's Bay are trying to do their bit to reduce pollution from electricity generation, and that should be encouraged not penalised.

"We are moving fast into a new age of electricity networks, with much more small-scale distributed generation and battery storage. It's time for the power companies to catch up."

In a story earlier this month, statistics showed Hawke's Bay people were increasingly turning to solar power.

There were 425 solar connections in the region Bay at the end of March, up on 249 at the same time last year and 95 the previous one.

Of this year's connections, 399 were residential, 11 commercial and 15 industrial.

Tomorrow's meeting comes just a month after this newspaper's story on a proposal to turn Te Awanga and Clifton into New Zealand's fist solar-power settlement. In that story Mr Nilsson said Hawke's Bay Farmyard Zoo, the Haumoana Four Square and Clifton Cricket club had all installed solar panels and the area was "well on its way to becoming the eco-village".

Nationwide, there were 9506 solar connections at the end of March, up on 5756 at the same time in 2015 and 2709 the previous year.

- The meeting will be held at the Clive Hall, 162 Main Rd, Clive, tomorrow at 7.30pm.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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