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Solar panels and the review of electricity distribution prices

Potential changes in how distribution of electricity is priced could affect households with solar panels and electric vehicles.Distributing electricity from the grid to users makes up around 27% of the average power bill.The Electricity Authority says it expects that the price anyone pays for their electricity reflects the costs of the distribution service they are getting. It says new technologies are challenging that principle. It quotes the example of a household that installs solar panels: “…they can reduce the share they pay of the distribution network costs, meaning other consumers on that network will pay a higher share.”The Authority is looking for changes. “Some good progress has been made by distributors, but price reform is not happening quickly enough and needs to advance with more urgency.”One of the reasons the Authority says changes are required is the growth of solar panel installations. In its paper, the Authority says:

"In 2015, NZIER estimated that just in relation to solar panels alone distribution charges could increase by up to 30 per cent over 10 years. This would add 10 per cent to the retail bills of consumers without solar panels. They effectively end up cross-subsidising others to over-invest in solar panels. The economic cost of this outcome occurring has been estimated to be in billions of dollars.”

The growth in electrical vehicles, and how and when they are charged, is also an issue.One part of the proposal is an annual star-rating of the efficiency of each distributor’s price structure. This rating would be made public.The Authority has published a consultation paper asking for feedback. Submissions can be made up until 19 February 2019. You can find more information here.




New WHO housing guidelines coming

The World Health Organisation’s new Housing and Health Guidelines are being launched in late February.

The Housing and Health Guidelines will include recommendations on insulation, heating, crowding, disability and home injury hazards. They will be relevant for everyone from policy makers through to designers and builders.

The University of Otago, Wellington, will host the southern hemisphere launch on Monday 25 February. There will be local and international speakers who will explain the new guidelines and recommendations for their implementation.

You can find out more here.




NZGBC launches rating for existing homes

HomeFit assesses the health, comfort, energy efficiency and safety of New Zealand homes.

The new service is aimed at New Zealanders who want to improve their property or who are looking to buy or rent an existing home.

An assessor goes through a property, looking at insulation, ventilation, heating and energy efficiency. The assessor considers the property’s performance in terms of providing a healthy warm and dry environment. If it meets certain requirements it gets a HomeFit stamp. Homes with a higher level of performance can get a HomeFit Plus rating. People selling or renting out a property can use the rating in their marketing material and advertising.

The service was developed by the New Zealand Green Building Council with industry input.

As well as the assessment service, there is an online check that people can use as a basic guide to a house and how improvements can be made.

Read more about HomeFit here.