A white knight – and solar panels
New Zealand electricity corporates are being challenged by a worldrated adversary.
The issue: Companies are slashing the price they will pay new owners of solar power systems who choose to sell surplus power from their roof-top source to conventional national providers.
The first move came from Mercury Energy, virtually halving the existing payout rate to owners who install new solar systems.
So new users who have paid thousands of dollars for solar equipment believing they could repay some of their outlay from corporate grants will have to dig deeper into their savings.
And long-established solar owners who’ve put grants from surplus power to good use might wonder when their turn for less will come.
Enter a white knight in shining armour – Avaaz, a powerful and experienced protest group based in New York’s Manhattan which has gained top world rankings on world issues.
Avaaz (the name means ‘‘voices’’) is circulating a petition to the New Zealand power companies wanting that decision reversed.
The group’s leader, Ricken Patel – the son of a Canadian-Indian father, he began school on an Indian reserve and is a Harvard graduate – has released a 2014 campaign list.
Avaaz records petitions with millions of signatures and ‘‘Save the world’’ protest marches which jam- packed supporters in New York and London streets as highlights.
The outcome: 675,000 people in streets around the world, including New Zealand – 35,000 in Melbourne. The United Nations secretary general joined the world marchers. Among the testimonials: The BBC: ‘‘ The marches brought more people on to the streets than ever before, partly thanks to the organisational power of the E (for environment) campaign of Avaaz …’’
President Obama: ‘‘Our citizens keep marching, we cannot pretend we do not hear them …’’
Germany’s environment minister: ‘‘I would like to thank the millions of people who have joined Avaaz … without public support it will be impossible to stop climate change.’’
He was one of the ministers who met the crusaders.
They also held advocacy meetings with the climate and energy ministers of France, Brazil and the UK.
The marchers delivered a 2.2 million signature petition to world leaders – including the French president – calling for 100 per cent clean energy.
More than 2000 put their names on lists of volunteers to fight Ebola in Africa.
The organisation sent $2 million to fund hospitals and care of the victims.
Then there was the old enemy, Monsanto. This $60-billion world corporate planned a mega plant in Argentina to extend its grip over global farming and food chains.
Avaaz members joined with a local movement to launch a one million-strong petition and flooded the inboxes of decision makers with thousands of messages. They joined top lawyers on a briefing that showed Monsanto’s environmental assessment was illegal.
Argentinian grassroots leader Celina Molina said: ‘‘After more than a million Avaaz members stood with the people of Malvinas Argentinas, we won an important battle in the fight against Monsanto!
‘‘From gaining access to documents denied to us by the authorities to running a opinionchanging poll, Avaaz was important in preventing the largest transgenic seed plant from being built in our backyard.’’ PS: Latest from Avaaz: The first weeks produced more than 12,000 signatures on the solar panel dispute – and counting.
The New Zealand Electricity Authority, an independent Crown entity responsible for regulation of the electricity market, has agreed to hold a discussion at its next meeting (‘‘in early 2015’’) about a public consultation on setting fair prices for solar.
A final sting in the tale: Avaaz has also pressured to save American bees threatened by insecticides – made by you know who!
Cost effective? Companies are slashing the price they will pay new owners of solar power systems who choose to sell surplus power from their roof-top source to conventional national providers.