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Greens aim for 100pc renewable electricity

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/04/2017

A target for Kiwis to be using 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2030 is bold but achievable the Green Party says.

It would involve phasing out fossil fuel plants as they reach their expiry dates and replacing them with environmentally friendly renewables including wind and solar according to a new party policy unveiled by co-leader James Shaw and energy spokesman Gareth Hughes on Thursday.

It also includes a plan to spend $112 million a year helping the nation's poorest households afford heating.

A "winter warm-up payment" of up to $300 per household would cover up to 75 per cent of heating bills for 520,000 households with an income of less than $50,000.

Mr Hughes said the payments would be funded directly by the government though the Ministry of Social Development with the roll out process still to be determined.

"We could get this in place by next winter," he said.

The policy follows consultation with more than 30 energy companies across the sector and is largely based on systems "proven to work" overseas, Mr Shaw said.

He admitted there had been some push back from energy companies who didn't like the 100 per cent renewable target, but claimed that mostly came from companies with a stake in fossil fuels.

The party won't force the closure of fossil fuel plants and haven't ruled out keeping fossil fuel plants as a backup.

"We're taking a practical, pragmatic approach," Mr Hughes said.

"If there is a drought year we may need to rely on some fossil fuel generation - the Green Party is ok with that but just because we have it doesn't mean we have to burn it."

The policy also includes a plan to force energy line companies to publicly disclose operational information in a bid for cost, price and revenue transparency.

Business NZ energy manager John Carnegie said there were parts of the policy that "push the edges a wee bit" - including a proposal to ban new thermal power stations - but overall they're happy with the ideas presented.

He said they were delighted the party scrapped the NZ Power plan.

Last election the Greens proposed a single buyer like NZ Power for the nation's electricity market, but Mr Hughes said that was because they had found "better solutions" than what was right four years ago.

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