The electricity sector in New Zealand uses mainly renewable energy sources such as hydropower, geothermal power and increasingly wind energy. The 70% share of renewable energy sources makes New Zealand one of the lowest carbon dioxide emitting countries in terms of electricity generation. Electricity demand has grown by an average of 2.1% per year since 1974 and 0.6% from 2005 to 2011. Despite being slightly above global average in the list of countries by energy intensity, New Zealand has been called one of the least energy efficient countries in the OECD when comparing economic output against electricity consumption.
New Zealand suffers from a geographical imbalance between electricity production and consumption. The most substantial electricity generation (both existing and as remaining potential) is located on the South Island and to a lesser degree in the central North Island, while the main demand (which is continuing to grow) is in the northern North Island, particularly the Auckland Region. This requires electricity to be transmitted north through a power grid which is reaching its capacity more often. Transpower is currently expecting to spend approximately $5 billion on major upgrades to the national grid over the next 10 years, with a particular focus on the supply to the Auckland Region.
Regulation of the electricity market is the responsibility of the Electricity Authority (formerly the Electricity Commission). Electricity lines businesses, including Transpower and the distribution lines companies, are regulated by the Commerce Commission. Control is also exerted by the Minister of Energy in the New Zealand Cabinet, though the Minister for State-Owned Enterprises and the Minister for Climate Change also have some powers by virtue of their positions and policy influence in the government.
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“Prudence and justice tell me that in electricity and steam there is more love for man than in chastity and abstinence from meat.”
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