Energy Innovation (Electric Vehicles and Other Matters) Amendment Bill

Energy Innovation (Electric Vehicles and Other Matters) Amendment Bill

Government Bill

196—2

As reported from the Commerce Committee

Commentary

Recommendation

The Commerce Committee has examined the Energy Innovation (Electric Vehicles and Other Matters) Amendment Bill and recommends that it be passed with the amendments shown.

Introduction

This omnibus bill seeks to amend the Electricity Industry Act 2010, the Energy (Fuels, Levies, and References) Act 1989, the Land Transport Act 1998, and the Road User Charges Act 2012.

The bill aims to encourage energy innovation, such as emerging energy technologies and increased variation in energy-related business models, so New Zealand can respond to its environmental and energy objectives.

It proposes to achieve this by:

  • expanding the purposes for which the existing electricity efficiency levy, gas levy, and petroleum or engine fuel monitoring levy can be used to enable the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) to use all three levies; and improving the operation and administration of the levies

  • encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles by extending the road user charge exemption to include heavy electric vehicles, and clarifying that a road controlling authority may use its bylaw-making powers so that electric vehicles (EVs) can access bus and high-occupancy vehicle lanes

  • clarifying how electricity industry legislation applies to secondary networks (electricity networks that are indirectly connected to the national grid).

This commentary covers the main amendments that we recommend to the bill. It does not cover minor or technical amendments.

Definition of a secondary network provider

The bill would make changes to clarify how electricity industry regulation applies to secondary networks.

Secondary networks are electricity networks that are indirectly connected to the national grid. They include equipment that is used, designed, or intended for use in or in connection with the conveyance of electricity. Examples include networks in some multi-tenanted office blocks, residential apartment blocks, retirement villages, shopping centres, airports, industrial or commercial parks, and residential subdivisions.

Clause 7 of the bill would insert new subpart 2A in Part 5 of the Electricity Industry Act 2010. It would apply certain electricity industry legislation to secondary network providers on the same basis as if they were electricity distributors. New section 131A includes definitions of a secondary network and a secondary network provider.

We understand that the aim is to make it clear that, when owners of secondary networks undertake activities equivalent to those of an electricity distributor, they should be subject to the same regulatory requirements.

We recommend clarifying the definition of “secondary network provider” in clause 7, new section 131A(2). We believe that applying the legislative requirements to services that are “substantially” similar to those of a distributor, rather than just similar, would more closely match the policy intent.

Enforcing the correct use of special vehicle lanes

The bill would facilitate the implementation of a new initiative to allow EVs to use special vehicle lanes, if a road controlling authority uses its bylaw-making powers to do so.

We heard concerns relating to enforcing this initiative, because of the difficulty of distinguishing between EVs and non-EVs.

We recommend inserting new clause 17A, amending section 145 of the Land Transport Act, to permit an image taken by approved vehicle surveillance equipment to be evidence of the unauthorised use of a special vehicle lane.

Information about a vehicle can be accessed on the Motor Vehicle Register (MVR) by using its number plate. The MVR is in the process of being updated to show whether or not a vehicle is electric. It also shows who owns the vehicle so that, if necessary, they can be sent an infringement notice.

We consider that our proposed amendment would provide another option to enable road controlling authorities to enforce the correct use of special vehicle lanes.

Regulations made under the Road User Charges Act

Clause 20 of the bill would insert new section 37A into the Road User Charges Act to allow heavy EVs to be exempted from road user charges (RUC) for a period of time, by Order in Council. As introduced, this new section uses the same language as the existing RUC exemption for light EVs.

We recommend amending proposed new section 37A by inserting new subsection (1A). This would require the relevant Minister to be satisfied that any Order in Council under this section has the purpose of encouraging and supporting the uptake of heavy EVs.

We also recommend inserting new subsection (2A) to provide that the initial RUC exemption would expire no later than 31 December 2025, and any subsequent exemption would last for no more than 5 years.

These changes would provide greater consistency with the Regulation Review Committee’s approach to exemption powers.

Collection of the gas levy

We recommend amending clause 13 to replace, rather than amend, section 23 of the Energy (Fuels, Levies, and References) Act 1989. This change would place liability for the gas levy solely where gas is sold by a retailer (as defined under the Gas Act 1992).

The bill proposes to amend section 14 of the Energy (Fuels, Levies, and References) Act 1989, to allow the levy on piped gas (the gas levy) to fund EECA’s activities.

We were informed that there is significant under-recovery of the gas levy. Currently, the levy is used to recover the costs incurred by regulators for safety, monitoring, and information provision in relation to the gas industry. This includes gas safety and monitoring activities. The inequity of only some firms (and consumers who pay the levy, assuming that it is passed on) bearing the cost of the levy would be exacerbated by the proposed expansion of the levy.

In the supply chain, the liability for the levy currently sits primarily at the wholesale selling point. We understand that the underpayment of the gas levy can be attributed to complexities that have arisen in the industry since the 1989 legislation. These complexities include a lack of clarity about the point of liability, a lack of information about the end use of the gas that is sold to retailers (as well as whether it meets criteria for exemption), and unawareness of levy obligations.

We consider that our proposed amendment to place the liability for the gas levy on retailers (instead of at the wholesale selling point) is the most appropriate option because:

  • it is clear who is liable

  • it increases transparency without undue burden on retailers (most already pay the Gas Industry Company retail levy)

  • the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment would be able to access the necessary data to verify levy payments

  • it does not require complete re-structuring of the levy liability.

We will monitor the way in which this levy is implemented to ensure that consumers are not unduly or unfairly charged in a way that does not reflect the actual cost of the levy to the retailer.

Exemptions from the gas levy

The Energy (Fuels, Levies, and References) Act 1989 (section 23(2)) currently provides for specific exemptions from gas levies—gas sold for use as a feedstock, for the generation of electricity, and liquefied petroleum gas.

We recommend inserting new clause 14A which would amend section 35 of the Act so that regulations may be made to provide exemptions for matters prescribed under proposed new section 23(3). Allowing these exemptions to be made under the new levy regulations would enable the application of the levy to be kept up to date.

We also recommend removing the current exemption in section 23(4) of the Energy (Fuels, Levies, and References) Act 1989, for a sale of less than 10,000 gigajoules of gas in a quarter. We consider that every retailer should be subject to the same provisions.

Transitional provisions

We recommend amending Schedule 1AA (which will be inserted into the Energy (Fuels, Levies, and References) Act 1989), by inserting new clause 2. This provision would clarify who is responsible for paying the gas levy (and supplying the return) for gas sold in the 3-month period ending 30 June 2017.

Appendix

Committee process

The Energy Innovation (Electric Vehicles and Other Matters) Amendment Bill was referred to the committee on 8 November 2016. The closing date for submissions was 1 February 2017. We received and considered 40 submissions from interested groups and individuals. We heard oral evidence from 11 submitters.

We received advice from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Transport. The Regulations Review Committee reported to us on the powers contained in clauses 4, 14, and 20.

Committee membership

Melissa Lee (Chairperson)

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi

Ria Bond

Clare Curran

Raymond Huo

Brett Hudson

Gareth Hughes

Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga

Stuart Nash

Simon O’Connor

Key to symbols used

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Hover your cursor over an amendment for information about that amendment. Download the PDF version to see this information in a form that can be printed out.

Hon Judith Collins

Energy Innovation (Electric Vehicles and Other Matters) Amendment Bill

Government Bill

196—2

Contents

Commentary
Key
1Title
2Commencement
3Principal Act
4Section 128 amended (Levies)
5Section 129 amended (Consultation about request for appropriation)
6New section 129A inserted (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority consultation about request for appropriation)
129AEnergy Efficiency and Conservation Authority consultation about request for appropriation
7New subpart 2A inserted in Part 5
131AApplication of electricity industry legislation to secondary networks
8Principal Act
9Section 1B amended (Interpretation)
10New section 1AAA inserted (Transitional, savings, and related provisions)
1AAATransitional, savings, and related provisions
11Section 14 amended (Purpose of levies)
12New section 14A inserted (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority consultation about request for appropriation)
14AEnergy Efficiency and Conservation Authority consultation about request for appropriation
13Section 23 amendedreplaced (Gas levies)
23Gas levies
14Section 33 amended (Regulations prescribing levy rates)
14ASection 35 amended (Other regulations)
15New Schedule 1AA inserted
16Principal Act
17Section 22AB amended (Road controlling authorities may make certain bylaws)
17ASection 145 amended (Evidence of approved vehicle surveillance equipment)
18Principal Act
19Section 5 amended (Interpretation)
20New section 37A inserted (Exemption of heavy electric RUC vehicles by Order in Council)
37AExemption of heavy electric RUC vehicles by Order in Council
Legislative history

The Parliament of New Zealand enacts as follows:

1 Title

This Act is the Energy Innovation (Electric Vehicles and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2016.

2 Commencement

This Act comes into force on 1 July 2017.

Part 1 Amendments to Electricity Industry Act 2010

3 Principal Act

This Part amends the Electricity Industry Act 2010 (the principal Act).

4 Section 128 amended (Levies)

(1)

In section 128(3)(c), delete “in relation to the encouragement, promotion, and support of electricity efficiency,”.

(2)

After section 128(5)(a), insert:

(aa)

include, in the method of calculating or ascertaining the amount of the levy, provisions related to any shortfall in recovering, or over-recovery of, the actual costs from a previous year:

5 Section 129 amended (Consultation about request for appropriation)

(1)

In the heading to section 129, replace Consultation with Authority consultation.

(2)

In section 129(1), delete “and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority”.

(3)

In section 129(2), replace “Each Authority” with “The Authority”.

6 New section 129A inserted (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority consultation about request for appropriation)

After section 129, insert:

129A Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority consultation about request for appropriation

(1)

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority must, before submitting a request to the Minister seeking an appropriation of public money for the following year, or any change to an appropriation for the current year, that relates to costs that are intended to be recovered by way of levies under section 128(3)(c), consult about that request with—

(a)

those industry participants who are liable to pay a levy under that section; and

(b)

any other representatives of persons whom the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority believes to be significantly affected by a levy.

(2)

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority must, at the time when the request is submitted, report to the Minister on the outcome of that consultation.

(3)

This section applies to requests in respect of the financial year beginning 1 July 2018 and later financial years.

7 New subpart 2A inserted in Part 5

After section 131, insert:

Subpart 2A—Secondary networks

131A Application of electricity industry legislation to secondary networks

(1)

This Act, the regulations, and the Electricity Industry Participation Code apply, with all necessary modifications, to a secondary network provider as if that provider were a distributor.

(2)

In this section,—

secondary network means equipment that—

(a)

is used, designed, or intended for use in, or in connection with, the conveyance of electricity; and

(b)

is indirectly connected to the national grid

secondary network provider means a business that—

(a)

is engaged in the conveyance of electricity on a secondary network; and

(b)

provides services that are substantially similar to the services provided by a distributor.

Part 2 Amendments to Energy (Fuels, Levies, and References) Act 1989

8 Principal Act

This Part amends the Energy (Fuels, Levies, and References) Act 1989 (the principal Act).

9 Section 1B amended (Interpretation)

In section 1B, insert in its appropriate alphabetical order:

EECA means the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority established under section 20 of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2000

10 New section 1AAA inserted (Transitional, savings, and related provisions)

After section 1, insert:

1AAA Transitional, savings, and related provisions

The transitional, savings, and related provisions set out in Schedule 1AA have effect according to their terms.

11 Section 14 amended (Purpose of levies)

After section 14(2), insert:

(2A)

Despite subsections (1) and (2), levies recovered under sections 23 and 24 may be applied for the purpose of meeting a portion of the costs of the EECA, in performing its functions and exercising its powers and duties under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2000, where the size of the portion to be met by each levy under this Act is determined by the Minister.

12 New section 14A inserted (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority consultation about request for appropriation)

After section 14, insert:

14A Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority consultation about request for appropriation

(1)

The EECA must, before submitting a request to the Minister seeking an appropriation of public money for the following year, or any change to an appropriation for the current year, that relates to costs that are intended to be recovered by way of a levy under section 23 or 24, consult about that request with—

(a)

those persons who are liable to pay the levy; and

(b)

any other representatives of persons whom the EECA believes to be significantly affected by the levy.

(2)

The EECA must, at the time when the request is submitted, report to the Minister on the outcome of that consultation.

13 Section 23 amendedreplaced (Gas levies)

(1)

In section 23(3), after with this section, insert and with regulations made under section 33.

(2)

In section 23(5), replace 2 cents for each complete gigajoule or such lesser amount for each complete gigajoule as may be prescribed with payable, for each complete gigajoule, at the rate or amount calculated or ascertained in accordance with this section and with regulations made under section 33.

(3)

Replace section 23 with:

23 Gas levies

(1)

A gas retailer who sells piped gas must, not later than 30 days after the last day of March, June, September, and December in each year,

(a)

supply the Secretary with a return of the energy content of all piped gas sold by the retailer during the preceding 3-month period ending with the last day of March, June, September, and December, respectively; and

(b)

pay to the Secretary the levy for the relevant 3-month period calculated in accordance with this section and with regulations made under section 33.

(2)

The levy for the relevant 3-month period is payable, for each complete gigajoule of piped gas sold, at the rate or amount calculated or ascertained in accordance with this section and with regulations made under section 33.

(3)

However, the levy is not payable on, and a return is not required to include,

(a)

piped gas of a prescribed type; or

(b)

piped gas that is to be used for a prescribed purpose.

(4)

All gas measurements made for the purpose of supplying a return and calculating the levy payable under this section must be made by the use of methods approved by the Secretary.

(5)

In this section, unless the context otherwise requires, expressions defined in the Gas Act 1992 have the meanings so defined.

14 Section 33 amended (Regulations prescribing levy rates)

(1)

In section 33(1)(b), replace “formulas for calculating” with “methods of calculating or ascertaining”.

(2)

After section 33(1), insert:

(1A)

Regulations made under subsection (1) may—

(a)

specify the periods for which amounts or rates of the levies apply; and

(b)

include, in any prescribed method of calculating or ascertaining amounts or rates of the levies, provisions relating to any shortfall in recovering, or over-recovery of, the actual costs of EECA from a previous levy period.

(3)

In section 33(2), replace “formula” with “method”.

14A Section 35 amended (Other regulations)

After section 35(1)(f), insert:

(faa)

prescribing any matter that section 23(3) provides is to be prescribed:

15 New Schedule 1AA inserted

Insert the Schedule 1AA set out in the Schedule of this Act as the first schedule to appear after the last section of the principal Act.

Part 3 Amendments to Land Transport Act 1998

16 Principal Act

This Part amends the Land Transport Act 1998 (the principal Act).

17 Section 22AB amended (Road controlling authorities may make certain bylaws)

Replace section 22AB(1)(r) with:

(r)

prescribing, subject to the marking of lanes on the roadway, that on any road any traffic lane may be used or any turning movement may be made only by vehicles of specified classes or vehicles carrying specified classes of loads or no fewer than a specified number of occupants:

17A Section 145 amended (Evidence of approved vehicle surveillance equipment)

(1)

In section 145(1), after moving vehicle offence, insert or a special vehicle lane offence.

(2)

In section 145(2), replace in proceedings for a moving vehicle offence with , in proceedings for a moving vehicle offence or a special vehicle lane offence,.

Part 4 Amendments to Road User Charges Act 2012

18 Principal Act

This Part amends the Road User Charges Act 2012 (the principal Act).

19 Section 5 amended (Interpretation)

(1)

In section 5(1), definition of exempt vehicle, after paragraph (b)(i), insert:

(ia)

heavy electric RUC vehicles exempted by an Order in Council made under section 37A:

(2)

In section 5(1), insert in its appropriate alphabetical order:

heavy electric RUC vehicle means a RUC vehicle with—

(a)

a gross vehicle mass of more than 3 500 kilograms; and

(b)

motive power wholly or partly derived from an external source of electricity

20 New section 37A inserted (Exemption of heavy electric RUC vehicles by Order in Council)

After section 37, insert:

37A Exemption of heavy electric RUC vehicles by Order in Council

(1)

The Governor-General may, by Order in Council made on the recommendation of the Minister, specify the period during which road user charges are not payable in respect of heavy electric RUC vehicles.

(1A)

The Minister must not recommend the making of an order under this section unless the Minister is satisfied that the purpose of the exemption is to encourage and support the uptake of heavy electric RUC vehicles.

(2)

An order made under subsection (1)

(a)

must specify the date on which the exemption expires; and

(b)

may, from time to time, be amended to provide for a later date.

(2A)

An order made under this section must specify the date on which the period of exemption ends, and that date must be no later than,

(a)

in the case of the first order made under this section, 31 December 2025; and

(b)

in the case of any subsequent order made under this section, the date that is 5 years after the date on which the period of exemption starts.

Schedule New Schedule 1AA inserted

s 15

Schedule 1AA Transitional, savings, and related provisions

s 1AAA

Part 1 Provisions relating to Energy Innovation (Electric Vehicles and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2016

1 Provision in relation to Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority consultation about request for appropriation

Section 14A applies to requests in respect of the financial year beginning 1 July 2018 and later financial years.

2 Provision in relation to gas levies

(1)

Section 23 (as in force immediately before commencement) continues to apply in respect of piped gas sold in the 3-month period ending with 30 June 2017.

(2)

A person, body, or gas retailer referred to in subsection (3) of section 23 (as in force immediately before commencement) remains liable to supply the Secretary, not later than 30 days after 30 June 2017, with the return and levy referred to in that subsection.

(3)

In this clause, commencement means 1 July 2017.

Legislative history

27 October 2016

Introduction (Bill 196–1)

8 November 2016

First reading and referral to Commerce Committee