Energy Futures in New Zealand

Morgan Williams spoke about Energy Futures in New Zealand at Te Papa’s Science Express last month. His focus was on the electricity sector and particularly the importance of it being fully renewable. He stressed the complexity of issues and gave examples of local and overseas initiatives.

In response to a question, Morgan commented, “restructuring electricity generation and supply, so as to result in five gentailers (companies that both generate and retail electricity) has not reduced electricity prices in real terms, as promised by the politicians. We have a very complex system for a very small nation, as our overall electricity security and sustainabilty has now proved. As communities, we have to really start to challenge the value of this model,” he said.

 “There is a great complacency here in New Zealand because we are the last stop on the planet. We have weathered a lot of storms in the last 10 years because of it, so we do not see the size of the problem in front of us. We probably have the easiest road to 100% renewable electricity in any country in the OECD. We now sit on 70% and we could do it by 2030 or even sooner - it is only a matter of political will and national vision. But as a nation we do not do strategic stuff very well, so change has to be driven from a community level.

Morgan’s renewable electricity interests are currently actioned through his role as Chair of Our Wind Ltd a new company aimed at helping communities establish small clusters of wind turbines. “Blueskin Bay are an active group in Otago who have run energy efficiency and insulation projects for their homes and now want to set up a cluster of wind turbines. These initiatives have changed politics overseas, and they will eventually do the same here.”

Morgan spent 10 years as New Zealand’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment from 1997-2007. His interest in the political, social and economic factors that influence our environmental management spans more than 30 years.



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