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Winter Power Task Force Oversees Winter 2003 Preps

Grid Security Committee

Winter Power Task Force To Oversee Winter 2003 Preparations

The electricity industry today called on consumers to be prudent and aware in the lead up to a potentially dry winter.

The Grid Security Committee – involving senior representatives from electricity generators, retailers, major users, consumers, advisory bodies, Transpower and network companies, – announced today that it had formed a Winter Electricity Task Force to co-ordinate efforts through this winter. The Task Force expects to appoint a full time director shortly. Grid Security Committee chairman David Caygill said today it was important to remember that winter was still some months away and it was too early to predict with certainty what hydro electricity supplies would be available.

There were three main factors pointing to concern over winter supply: Demand was up about 5% on last year. Supply constraints on gas arising from the Maui redetermination would make it more difficult to fill any hydro gap with thermal electricity. Hydro inflows have been lower than average.

“It is important to keep this in perspective. While inflows to the hydro lakes have been lower, lake levels are not as low as they were this time in 2001.

“After all, we are still in March and winter is quite a few months away.

“Despite this, the situation is having an impact now, with spot prices rising in the last few weeks, impacting on some major industrial users.

The first step the task force will take is to initiate a first stage conservation campaign for all users.

“It is sensible to take steps now to ensure the country is not unduly affected by any potential power shortages. “There is no downside to conserving electricity. Even if there are no supply shortages, consumers will still have reduced their power bills if they make savings now.

“Every unit saved by consumers now will ease the current pressure on some major industrial users to curb production.”

Mr Caygill said the Winter Electricity Task Force represented the widest range of the electricity industry, working together to manage any possible difficulties this winter with the minimum of disruption.

In addition to co-ordinating energy conservation efforts, the task force would:

Provide updates to ensure the public had the latest information on electricity supply. Take steps to minimise any constraints in electricity transmission. Examine and work with generator companies on contingency generation plans.

The Winter Power Task Force was folding the preparatory work already undertaken by the Winter Steering Group into a co-ordinated plan of graduated actions that would roll out as circumstances dictated.

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