Consultation opens on defining energy hardship

Published: 04 November 2021

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has opened a consultation today on its proposed definition of energy wellbeing and hardship, and potential indicators to measure hardship over time.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has opened a consultation today on its proposed definition of energy wellbeing and hardship, and potential indicators to measure hardship over time.

“We know many households across the country are experiencing energy hardship. But we don’t have a clear and agreed understanding of exactly how widespread the problem is, who is affected, and the drivers behind it,” says Daniel Griffiths, MBIE’s Manager of Markets, Evidence and Insights.

“By developing an agreed definition and indicators to measure it, we’ll be able to build a picture of energy hardship nationally, and have the tools to monitor it over time.

“This will enhance the government’s ability to design targeted policies and measure progress towards alleviating energy hardship and improving energy wellbeing in our communities. Importantly, this in turn will help government agencies, NGOs and others to better support households who are struggling to pay power bills, or living in cold and unhealthy homes.”

The Defining Energy Hardship Discussion Document is based on months of research, data analysis, and consultation with government agencies, community groups, academics and other experts.

“The next step is to test the proposed definition and potential measures with the wider public. We want to hear what people think – whether their experiences and understanding of energy hardship are reflected in this definition, as well as which measures of energy hardship they think are best.

“Public consultation is a really important component of this work. The feedback we receive will be taken on board as we finalise the definition and measures. It will also help shape our continued analysis and research to better understand energy hardship,” Daniel Griffiths said.

This work is a result of a recommendation from the 2019 Electricity Price Review, which noted New Zealand’s lack of an accepted definition of energy hardship can be a barrier to evaluating the success of initiatives aimed at reducing it. The Review also concluded there was no single solution for alleviating energy hardship and it will require combined efforts by government, regulators, the industry and others.

Those wanting to make a submission can complete the online survey. Feedback can also be provided by emailing or posting a written submission.

MBIE will also hold a webinar to talk through what is being proposed and answer questions.

To read the Defining Energy Hardship Discussion Document, view information about making a submission and details of the webinar, visit the Defining Energy Hardship consultation webpage.

Defining Energy Hardship consultation

Additional information

Alongside the Discussion Document, MBIE has released a technical appendix 'Results for selected measures of energy hardship'. The appendix updates some of the findings of the Stats NZ 2017 report ‘Investigating different measures of energy hardship for New Zealand’. The results are based on responses to the 2018/19 Household Economic Survey. This updated analysis provides initial insight into some measures of energy hardship and will inform MBIE’s consultation on defining and measuring energy hardship.

MBIE media contact

Email: media@mbie.govt.nz