The Northland Mayoral Forum has added its voice to the chorus of opposition to the Electricity Authority's transmission pricing methodology (TPM), which it says should be scrapped immediately.
Last week it called on the government to require the Authority to consider the impact of its decisions on communities such as Northland, which were experiencing substantial "energy poverty."
The TPM would hit Northlanders with an unfair and substantial financial burden through increased electricity prices, something that the people of Te Tai Tokerau simply could afford now or in the future according to mayors John Carter (Far North), Sheryl Mai (Whangārei) Dr Jason Smith (Kaipara) and Northland Regional Council chair Penny Smart.
"The proposal is grossly unfair, and the Government should stop it in its tracks," Forum chairman Dr Smith said.
"Like Top Energy, Northpower, Federated Farmers Northland, Northland Inc, NorthChamber, the Northland Regional Council and numerous Northland community groups, we have lobbied against the TPM for many years now, and we will continue to do so. We are taking the fight against this injustice to the next level," says Northland Mayoral Forum Chair Dr Jason Smith.
"If you look at the Authority's poor logic around user pays, we should be charging people in Wellington and the South Island more for diesel and internet simply because Refining NZ and the Hawaiki Cable are here in Northland, and those people are further away.
"Under the proposal the electricity pricing model is radically changed, and that is not the way the national grid was constructed. It was built for all New Zealanders to have equal and fair access to it.
"We only have to look at the impacts on Northland from outages on the national grid year after year to see just how exposed Northland is to an unreliable electricity supply. And the EA says we should be paying more? It just doesn't make sense. Why should we pay more for electricity than people in other parts of New Zealand? And just because we are further away from where the electricity is generated. That is not the New Zealand way.
"Our national grid belongs to everyone, so people shouldn't have to pay more because they live further away from where electricity is generated. That's why we should all continue to pay the same, and not be forced into a user pays model, as suggested by the EA. That is completely unacceptable, especially when people are facing such economic uncertainty due to Covid.
"This change will drive up power prices for families, farmers, businesses, schools and healthcare facilities."
The Forum also feared that the proposal would be the start of more price hikes, which would be harmful to current and future generations of Northlanders.
"Large pockets of Northland are deprived and poor, and energy poverty is very real in the North," he added.
"It is a major problem, and people are already struggling to survive financially, particularly on the back of Covid and the severe drought we have experienced. Heaping more economic stress on people could have dire impacts on wellbeing."
"We simply don't see how the government can find the proposal remotely acceptable or fair when it goes completely against the 2019 Wellbeing Budget."