Today, Solid Energy announced that the closure of Huntly’s dirty coal fired boilers will result in more job losses in the coal industry. As the world moves away from polluting power like coal, the pain of this shift is now being felt keenly here, at home.

The writing has been on the wall for some time, yet John Key has failed to put in place a plan to support those affected and their families, and start creating jobs in cleaner industries.

He’s ignoring the enormous opportunity to create many tens of thousands of jobs in powering our homes with clean energies like solar.

Jason Miczek / Greenpeace

The thing is, solar power - harnessing the energy from the sun - has made enormous progress over the years. It’s disrupting the current energy markets as costs crash and consumers are looking for cheaper, smarter ways of powering their homes. It allows homeowners to take control over how they produce their power and is an important part of tackling climate change.

And it also creates jobs.  

The irony is that it is, in part, responsible for killing off the coal industry and, combined with new electric car and battery storage technology, it’s got the oil companies running scared.

There is enormous potential for solar to take off here.

Right now, a law change has been put forward for parliament to vote on which will make it easier for Kiwis to install solar on their roof. It could create many jobs and help New Zealand build a cleaner, safer and more prosperous economy.

It means that John Key’s government has an opportunity to take a sensible step towards reducing pollution and show that New Zealand is ready to be part of the solution when it comes to tackling climate change.

Solar power is popular with the public, and no one likes to use popular opinion and polling to guide them more than Key. As homeowners, businesses, farmers up and down the country  come out in support of this law change, the question now is: will he?

Can the Key-led government see past its obsession with backing some of the most polluting companies on the planet to drill in our oceans for oil? Will they do the right thing for Kiwi households and the health of our nation?

Currently, every region across New Zealand has different rules, regulations and need for resource consents in order to install solar panels. This includes buy-back rates - the price a power company will pay you for any excess energy you produce. Currently, power companies set these rates, which can fluctuate from month to month, meaning that homeowners are in a constant state of uncertainty.

The new law change aims to simplify the process of installing solar by cutting the red tape and give a fair and fixed buy-back rate for homeowners. It’s a common sense solution to an unnecessarily complicated problem.

The beauty about it, especially for the bean counters in Treasury, is that it’s not a subsidy. It simply asks that the Electricity Authority Act as an independent umpire and set a fair and reasonable buy-back rate that works for homeowners.

So, ahead of Paris, will the Government vote for this new law to help Kiwi homeowners break free of the grip that companies have over their power, help them slash their household bills and be part of the solution to climate change?

Or will they vote to keep the power in the hands of their corporate mates and keep New Zealand in the dark ages?