National | Power

Power unaffordability for whānau ‘unacceptable’ - Energy Hardship Panel

Some time before the election the government is expected to consider the Energy Hardship Panel’s recommendations produced as part of the government’s electricity price review.

The panel had a goal for households to access and afford the energy they need, regardless of income or location.

That comes after least 8,000 homes have been disconnected in the past few years due to unaffordability, which panel chair Keri Brown (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Mahana) says is “unacceptable”.

He says the recommendations came after a countrywide reach-out to whānau on their experience of energy hardship.

“Electricity and power should be an essential need. This winter especially has been so cold, those impacts are so strong and that directly impacts health.

“[Whānau] having to make that difficult decision whether to heat or eat is an impossible situation in the cost of living [crisis].”

‘People without power tonight’

It was especially important as this would have a direct effect on the well-being of all tamariki in the country.

“In some situations, it was a lot harder than what we expected, that people are getting disconnected from post-pay and pre-pay [for energy bills]. Sometimes that can be for a significant amount of time.

“There are people tonight that will not have the power connected.”

The panel also looked into the quality of homes, such as their lack of insulation or other factors, and whether they had enough energy to power and heat them. Some programmes have been helping to make a difference for whānau, such as Warmer Kiwi Homes and Kāinga Ora retrofitting houses.

With elections less than two months away, although the report has not officially been released, so its recommendations are not known yet, Brown is hoping that whichever the government later this year, it will take on the report’s recommendations.

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