Labour is promising $4000 grants for people to install solar power in their homes, if re-elected.
The party is expecting the policy to double solar power uptake in the country, adding another 60,000 installations over four years at a cost of $218 million.
It expects installing solar power will save households up to 50 per cent in electricity bills, or about $850 annually.
Labour is also pledging $20m over four years for community projects and to fit out 1000 Kāinga Ora homes a year with solar panels, the latter costed at $18m a year.
The policy is similar to the Green Party’s Clean Power Payment, which includes up to $6000 for solar installations, along with also installing solar in Kāinga Ora homes.
“We need to increase renewable electricity generation by 68 per cent by 2050. Solar on roofs lowers bills, as well as generating electricity locally, reducing reliance on the grid,” Labour leader Chris Hipkins said today.
“I am absolutely focused on lowering household costs at the same time as driving New Zealand to become a global powerhouse of renewable energy. This plan does both of those things.”
The grant includes $2000 towards the panels and $2000 for a battery.
“There are well over 40,000 New Zealand homes getting cheaper, clean electricity with rooftop solar – this will more than double that with approximately 60,000 more rooftop solar systems.
“Experience from projects funded through our Community Renewable Energy Fund shows household solar panels can reduce energy bills by up to 50 per cent. That’s a saving of up to $850 a year.
“This package of new measures builds on Labour’s plan to see New Zealand lead the world in renewable energy, creating jobs and protecting Kiwis’ power bills from international price volatility.”
Labour energy spokeswoman Megan Woods said the new funding towards community energy projects would help boost energy generation, and put more renewable energy back into the grid, helping to lower the overall cost of energy nationwide.
“That funding will see new pilot programmes like mini urban solar farms, which provide revenue to those with spare commercial roof space by installing solar panels which feedback into the grid, trialled before being rolled out wider,” Woods said.
“We will also fit 1000 Kāinga Ora homes a year with solar panels, which will give financial relief to some of our lower-income families by reducing monthly energy bills.
“With Transpower forecasting a 68 per cent increase in electricity generation needed to meet demand by 2050 we need to boost New Zealand’s renewable energy capacity to provide greater economic security.
“By transitioning the bulk of our energy generation to renewable sources, like wind, solar and hydro in a fiscally responsible way, we can better protect New Zealanders from international pressures on energy prices like we have seen over the last two years with the war in Ukraine.”
She denied it was a watered-down version of the Green Party policy, saying it built on the deep retrofit policy, which is up to $18,000 for things like insulation, double glazing, removal of gas appliances.
“You put this on this is up to $22,000.”
On the Kāinga Ora rollout, she said it was a pilot to ensure they understood the benefits, how quickly they could do it and what was achievable.
The solar installations were just a “small part” of wider work to move towards 100 per cent renewable energy, with those funded equivalent to about one large wind farm, she said.
Asked about issues with solar and dealing with peak winter energy demand, Woods said this was alongside Labour’s work on largescale battery storage.
The party has been investigating a pumped storage scheme Lake Onslow, which National has said was too expensive and which it would scrap.
“Anyone who wants to govern this country has to be thinking about what the stability and security looks like within that system,” Woods said.
Woods said the policy followed the Clean Car Standard and Discount which had increased electric vehicle uptake by 35 per cent since 2017. And the funding of the more than 1300 EV charges, one in almost every New Zealand town.
“It’s further to BlackRock’s $2 billion fund and the work of New Zealand Green Investment Finance to accelerate investment in innovative and dynamic companies, new technologies and significant projects that create jobs,” Woods said.
“We can either remain vulnerable to volatile global economic forces or follow Labour’s affordable plan that boosts energy production, reduces emissions, lowers energy bills, and positions New Zealand with a future-proof economy.”
Green Party’s energy spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter meanwhile said Labour’s plan fell short of theirs, which would cover the full cost of installing solar panels.
“Whereas Labour’s plan would help people with around 20 per cent of the upfront cost of solar, the Green Party will help people cover the entire cost - through a mix of grants and interest-free loans that together could unlock solar for every household.
“The Green Party would also install solar on the roofs of 30,000 Kāinga Ora homes over the next three years, instead of just 1,000 per year as Labour is currently proposing.
“We estimate that the Green Party’s Clean Power Payment will lead to a third of all homes having solar over the next 15 years.”
National has promised to double the country’s renewable energy capacity. Leader Christopher Luxon said today that would be accelerated by making them easier to put in place.
That could be done by speeding up consenting times, he said.
He had not seen the detail of Labour’s new announcement on solar energy subsidies.