Solar panels weren't considered for Kiwibuild

Housing Minister Phil Twyford didn't consider installing solar panels in Kiwibuild homes.

Documents released under the Official Information Act show Mr Twyford received no advice in relation to solar power and the 100,000 affordable homes the Government wants to build through the Kiwibuild programme.

Mr Twyford told Newshub it's too expensive at the moment. He says it could've added $15,000 in price to each home.

"Until the cost of domestic solar comes down, I don't think it's going to be practical financially to put them on Kiwibuild homes."

According to My Solar Quotes New Zealand, the average price to install solar power is $9000.

Mr Twyford has kept the door open for solar in future.

"It could be something that we look at the future - in the meantime our priority is to make sure that Kiwibuild homes are well-designed, thermally efficient so they don't cost much to heat.

However, energy efficiency advice was provided in relation to design standards for the homes.

"We're also at the moment looking at design standards for Kiwibuild that could mean that all Kiwibuild homes will have to be fitted for solar, wired up so that it would be really easy and cost free in the future to install solar panels.

"At first glance it's quite an appealing idea, but the numbers just don't stack up right now."

Despite the Green Party pushing for solar, co-leader Marama Davidson doesn't seem too upset about it.

"The problem is the provision of solar panels might be better provided at a community collective level rather than an individual house level.

"We want to take a step back and look at the entire way that we develop communities and build houses, that's something we'll keep pushing for and it's not a secret."

National's housing spokesperson Judith Collins told Newshub it's treading on hypocrisy.

"I think the Greens should be very concerned that they're looking very hypocritical ," she said.

"They say they're going to do all these things around energy, and it's actually an opportunity for them to put their money where their mouth is."

Ms Collins said Mr Twyford's explanation that solar is too expensive doesn't wash.

"The Government is in a position to procure at a much cheaper rate then the ordinary home purchaser. You have to say if it's so good, then why aren't they looking at it and putting it in?

"It seems to me they only want to tell everyone else what to do and not actually follow their own advice."

Phil Twyford.
Phil Twyford. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

Mr Twyford met with Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman in July "to discuss the alignment of the energy transition strategy to the housing strategy".

Mr Twyford says during the meeting, giving Kiwibuild homes the connectivity to install solar panels was mentioned. Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officials were present.

ACT leader David Seymour told Newshub the Transport Minister is biting off more than he can chew.

"It's just what happens when politicians try to build houses. He should've spent his time funding infrastructure and freeing up land, rather than try and be New Zealand's biggest home builder. Of course he was going to get bad advice and make mistakes."

The ballot for the first 18 Kiwibuild homes at McLennan in Auckland closed earlier this month.

There are currently 70 Kiwibuild homes under construction, and 44,642 people have registered interest in the programme so far.

To ensure KiwiBuild homes go to the people they are intended for, applicants must:

  • be a first-time buyer or a 'second chancer'
  • have an income of less than $120,000 for a single buyer, or no more than $180,000 for more than one purchaser
  • be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, or a resident visa holder who is 'ordinarily resident in New Zealand'
  • intend to own and live in the home as their primary place of residence for at least three years.