Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The cost of Tiwai Point

Two years ago, foreign polluters Rio Tinto blackmailed Aotearoa into giving them lower electricity prices again. And they got away with it, getting themselves a rate nearly ten times lower than what us plebs pay. So how much does that cost us? $200 a year per household, according to the Electricity Commission:

Households may be paying an extra $200 a year for electricity on average because Meridian and Contact had an incentive to provide cheap electricity to the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, the Electricity Authority says.


The authority said it was concerned Meridian and Contact were in effect subsidising the smelter to the tune of $500 million by selling it power at a cost of between 3 and 4 cents a kilowatt-hour that could have been more efficiently used elsewhere.

The cost of that subsidy was offset for them by the fact that demand from the smelter increased prices overall elsewhere by an estimated $850m a year, he said.

So Tiwai gets cheap power, and the rest of us get screwed. But not just financially. The additional demand from Tiwai means we need to keep Huntly running, which means spewing out millions of tons a year of extra carbon, while the constant threats of closure to blackmail lower prices deter the investments in renewables we need to decarbonise. This dirty foreign polluter is screwing our entire society. Either they need to pay their way, or fuck off.