Monday, October 18, 2021

The Entrust election

Auckland is holding elections for EnTrust, its local electricity trust. Entrust is important - it owns electricity and gas-supplier Vector, and so the decisions it makes around energy infrastructure could make a significant difference to greenhouse gas emissions. But the elections have traditionally been ignored, so its run by CitRats climate change deniers who focus infrastructure spending on their own neighbourhoods and leave the rest of Auckland to rot.

But this time round, there's a bunch of people who want to change that:

A new grouping of climate activists, venture fund leaders, consultants and an urban designer, seeks to control the trust which owns most of lines company Vector, in a shake-up of the traditionally low-polling election.

None of the five-strong team with the banner More for You, Better for Climate have political backgrounds, and they hope to end the centre-right Communities and Residents’ (C&R) dominance of Entrust.

The group sees Vector as an under-performing player in the transition to a low-carbon economy, and one that could deliver big benefits to Aucklanders in reducing energy poverty, and cutting spending on fossil fuels.

More for you, Better for Climate hopes to tap into advocacy and younger networks to broaden participation in October’s three-yearly election, which in 2018 drew a turnout of only 12.4 per cent.

They're promising to increase distributions, but also to push Vector to drive decarbonisation, using solar panels, batteries, and EV charging stations. And its that push for change, to destroy the high-carbon status quo, which is the important part. So if you live in Auckland, and care about the climate, I urge you to vote for them, and throw the CitRats out.

And if you don't live in Auckland? You'll get your turn soon enough. Because EnTrust isn't alone - most of Aotearoa's local lines companies are owned by similar local trusts. You can find your one here. And if MFYBFC is successful, then the obvious step is to try and replicate that success elsewhere. Kapiti / Horowhenua, King Country, Marlborough, Northland, Waitaki, and the West Coast are all having elections next year, some as early as April. So if MFYBFC is successful, we should hopefully see similar tickets emerge in those places too.

(In Palmerston North, the Central Energy Trust sold out in 2001, and now its just a self-perpetuating oligarchy sitting on a pile of cash which they dole out as community grants. So no elections here, unfortunately).