Energy Minister Phil Heatley today confirmed that the development of a robust renewable energy sector is not a priority for the National-led Government, says Labour's Energy spokesperson Moana Mackey.
"In his appearance before the Commerce Select Committee this morning, Phil Heatley was asked whether or not he believed that the development of renewable energy was as important, less important, or more important than fossil fuel exploration and extraction. After obfuscating for several minutes, he confirmed that renewables are not a priority for the Government.
"This vote of no confidence in the renewable energy sector will see more of our innovative companies heading overseas to countries with regimes that actively support and value their ideas," Moana Mackey said.
"This risk is highlighted by the recently released Renewables 2012 Global Status Report.
"The report shows that the New Zealand Government lags behind the developed, and in many cases developing world, as the only country (of the top 36 wealthiest countries) to have no renewable energy support policies in place.
"The Minister's response was that everything is going so well that the Government doesn't need to do anything to support the growth of this crucial sector.
"This is so far out of touch with reality it beggars belief," Moana Mackey said.
"Support for biofuels is now non-existent and the possibility of a major gas find with the Government's acceleration of exploration is a major threat to the economic viability of renewable electricity.
"Renewable energy companies have expressed concerns that the Minister doesn't understand the challenges facing their sector and that he seems to be under the illusion that the record percentage of renewable generation in 2011 was down to good management, rather than the fact that it rained a lot.
"After Phil Heatley's admission this morning, the sector is now dealing with a Minister who not only doesn't understand, but doesn't care.
"The Minister's flippant dismissal of the potential economic and environmental benefits of renewable technologies confirms that only a Labour-led government will support the renewable energy sector and work with them to create a clean green and clever New Zealand," Moana Mackey said.
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