National ditches light bulb phase-out

Last updated 01:37 17/12/2008

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The Government has dropped plans to phase out incandescent light bulbs and is moving to axe other measures, including a ban on thermal power plants and laws forcing a move toward biofuels.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee said yesterday the plan to phase out traditional light bulbs in favour of energy efficient bulbs had been abandoned.

Incandescent light bulbs were due to be phased out from the end of next year under energy efficiency standards introduced by Labour, in line with moves overseas, including Australia.

But National campaigned against the plan and said it would overturn the phase-out if elected.

Mr Brownlee said yesterday it was up to householders to decide which light bulb they used.

The move comes as National proposes to overturn other measures introduced by the last government, including a ban on thermal power plants and moves to increase the use of biofuels.

Parliament is debating both measures under urgency this week.

Mr Brownlee said the last government passed laws requiring biofuels to make up 2.5 per cent of all petrol and diesel sales by by 2012.

The new Government did not believe in making their use mandatory. Instead, it would move toward using tax incentives to encourage their use.

There were several exciting biofuel developments taking place in New Zealand, Mr Brownlee said.

"So-called second generation biofuels, from things like wood waste and algae, are able to be produced sustainably and will increase the security of our fuel supply whilst reducing our greenhouse gas emissions."

But there were concerns about the sustainability of some biofuels and the costs they would load on to consumers. Those costs would be anywhere from 2 cents to 8c a litre.

The Government was also investigating other ways to encourage biofuel use, including exempting ethanol and biodiesel from excise and road user charges.

Its decision to repeal a 10-year ban on building thermal stations, including gas and coal-fired plants, was aimed at easing strains on the energy sector.

"The ban would only put additional strain on the sector and last winter demonstrated the critical importance of gas-fired generation. At the time, electricity from thermal sources was generating over 50 per cent of our electricity needs," Mr Brownlee said.

Under existing law, new thermal generation plants are banned, although the law made provision for exemptions where it was necessary to ensure continuity of power supply.

 

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