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Proposed electricity transmission standards raise concerns

Proposed national environmental standards for electricity transmission would load some of Transpower’s current costs directly on to ratepayers, says Environment Waikato.

The regional council has today endorsed a staff submission to the Ministry for the Environment on the proposed standards and their impact in the Waikato, New Zealand’s leading electricity generating region.

“Without a more rigorous process to develop the content of both standards, it is difficult to counter landowners’ claims that the proposals are simply a cost transfer from the grid operator [Transpower] to local government and landowners, with little associated gain in protection for the electricity network or management of effects on the environment,” said group manager policy and strategy Robert Brodnax in the submission.

A report to today’s council meeting said the ministry had proposed a new standard covering existing transmission operations, and another covering risks to transmission from third parties whose activities could interfere with the network.

The report said the proposed standard covering transmission risk would pass additional monitoring and enforcement responsibilities, and costs to local government. But the ministry had failed to justify this cost transfer “from Transpower to landowners and ratepayers”. Regulation, monitoring and enforcement, and associated costs “would be passed to local government without adequate resourcing”.

This would mean significant additional costs for Environment Waikato in processing and monitoring consents for little extra benefit to the transmission system, the council believed.

The submission said council would welcome the opportunity for further discussions with the ministry on its objections to the proposals. “Environment Waikato recognises the significance of the national grid in ensuring security of electricity supply and supporting renewable electricity generation.”

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