National policy statement for renewable electricity generation

It provides guidance for local authorities on how renewable electricity generation should be dealt with in Resource Management Act 1991 planning documents. These documents include regional policy statements, regional plans and district plans.

Official title

National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation 2011

Lead agency

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

In force from

13 May 2011


The Government is proposing to strengthen national direction for renewable electricity generation and electricity transmission. This is to provide consistency with Aotearoa New Zealand’s emissions reduction targets that support the pace of development required to decarbonise the economy.

See the proposals [MBIE website]

The consultation closed on 1 June 2023 

Why it is needed

The NPS recognises the importance of renewable energy and will help New Zealand achieve the Government’s target of 90 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

The NPS promotes a more consistent approach to balancing the competing values associated with the development of New Zealand’s renewable energy resources when councils make decisions on resource consent applications. This gives greater certainty to applicants and the wider community.

What it covers

The NPS applies to renewable electricity generation activities at any scale. It covers the construction, operation and maintenance of structures associated with renewable electricity generation.

This includes:

  • small and community-scale renewable generation activities
  • systems to convey electricity to the distribution network and/or the national grid
  • electricity storage technologies associated with renewable electricity storage.

It covers all the renewable electricity generation types:

  • wind
  • geothermal
  • solar
  • biomass
  • marine

It also provides for investigation activities for renewable electricity generation such as wind masts and geothermal test bores.

Requirements for councils

Decision-makers on resource consent applications are required to have regard to the provisions of the NPS as a result of s 104(1)(b) of the RMA, regardless of when the application was lodged.

Consideration of requirements for designations, heritage orders and water conservation orders are similarly affected.

Amending plans to give effect to the NPS

Section 55 of the RMA requires local authorities to amend regional policy statements, proposed regional policy statements, plans, proposed plans and variations to give effect to any provision in a national policy statement that affects those documents.

The RMA requires the necessary amendments to be made as soon as practicable; or within the time specified in the national policy statement (if any); or before the occurrence of an event specified in the national policy statement (if any) (refer section 55(2D)).

The NPS requires regional councils, unless they have already provided for renewable electricity generation activities, to give effect to its provisions by notifying changes to existing or proposed regional policy statements within 24 months of the date on which it takes effect.

For regional and district plans, proposed plans or variations, local authorities are required to give effect to its provisions by notifying changes within the following timeframes:

  • 24 months of the date on which this national policy statement takes effect where the regional policy statement or proposed regional policy statement already provides for the policies, or
  • where a change or variation to the regional policy statement or proposed regional policy statement is required, within 12 months of the date on which the change or variation becomes operative.

For proposed plans, changes or variations notified before 13 May 2011 the NPS may help the decision-maker determine whether a proposed regional policy statement or plan will achieve the RMA’s purpose.


Implementation guidance for local authorities

The following guidance provides commentary and examples to help councils in giving effect to the NPS. It also includes guidance on the monitoring and review requirements of the NPS.

Implementation guidance 2011

Guidance on technical terms and concepts

The following guidance produced by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority explains technical terms and concepts used in the NPS. It is directed at local government decision makers.

National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation technical guide [PDF, 4 MB] 

It includes:

  • an overview of the New Zealand electricity system and market
  • an explanation of the renewable electricity target – 90 per cent by 2025
  • a summary of the most common types of renewable electricity generation technologies.

The guidance should be read in conjunction with the Ministry for the Environment National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Generation 2011: Implementation Guide.

Impacts of the NPS

Renewable generation proposals

The NPS is only one of a number of factors that a RMA decision-maker must consider when making a decision on renewable generation proposals. The NPS does not promote renewable electricity at any environmental cost.

Electricity generators

Electricity generators will benefit from more consistent resource consent and planning decisions across different districts and regions. This may reduce costs associated with advocacy during the development of district and regional plans and resource consent applications.

Landowners and the public

The NPS will not affect landowners’ rights.

The NPS will not affect the rights of the public to participate in resource management processes. As electricity consumers, the public will benefit from barriers to the development of renewable electricity generation being addressed.

Small electricity generation projects

The NPS seeks to reduce unnecessary barriers to obtaining resource consent for the development of small and community-scale renewable electricity generation projects. Local council policy statements and plans will have to provide for the development, operation, maintenance and upgrading of these projects from any renewable energy source to the extent applicable to the region or district.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of the NPS

Report of the Outcome Evaluation of the National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation (published December 2016).

The NPS will continue to be a component of the Government’s strategy for transitioning New Zealand to a low carbon economy. The main way it is doing this is by facilitating the development of renewable electricity generation projects in the regions.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment monitors and reports on the proportion of electricity generated from renewable resources.

Find out more

Minister’s media release: Priority given to renewable electricity April 2011 [Beehive website]