Thursday, June 10, 2021

Another sign of MBIE's captivity

When the government asks the public to conserve electricity, its usually because we're on the edge of a supply crisis, and its necessary to ensure our own lights will stay on. And when it does that, people generally buy into it, because they can see the reason. But last month, MBIE pushed for a conservation campaign not to keep the lights on, but to protect large energy users' profits:

Officials last month advised the Government to consider asking consumers to conserve electricity as one of two options to keep a lid on soaring wholesale electricity prices, documents released under the Official Information Act show.


MBIE advised Woods consider two options to bring wholesale prices down.

One was to encourage the country’s largest gas user, Methanex, to cut back production to free-up more gas for electricity generation.

Methanex has subsequently done that by agreeing to suspend production at its Motunui facility for almost three months, but Woods’ spokeswoman said there had been no intervention by the minister.

The other option MBIE advised Woods consider was “facilitating electricity demand reductions from mass market consumers” who are on fixed-price contracts and not exposed to spot market prices.

In other words, we should suffer to keep electricity prices low for big users, like good little peasants. Fortunately, Woods said "no", and I'm glad of it, because this would have been an abuse of the public trust which endangered cooperation in times of actual need. But the fact the suggestion was even made tells us whose interests MBIE serves, and who it really works for - and it isn't us. Instead, they've been captured by the group they're meant to regulate, and are basicly just lobbyists for them. In which case, why are we paying for them again?