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Target 10 Averts Winter Power Shortages

WINTER POWER TASKFORCE

19 June 2003
MEDIA RELEASE


Target 10 Averts Winter Power Shortages


The Winter Power Taskforce today announced an end to the Target 10 advertising campaign, but asked New Zealanders to continue saving prudently for at least another month.

Co-ordinator Patrick Strange said the outlook for winter power supplies was now more comfortable, but still required caution.

Most of the electricity retailers have introduced incentive programmes, which will encourage customers to continue to save electricity. The Winter Power Taskforce is confident that with continued savings, led by these programmes, the prospects of winter power shortages have been greatly reduced.

“Hydro lake levels are now at 87 per cent of average levels – still significantly less than we would prefer, but a far cry from two months ago when lake levels were just 61 per cent of average,” said Dr Strange.

“Importantly, long range forecasts are for close to normal rainfall in the hydro catchments and this has been reinforced by recent rainfall.”

“While the rain has been welcome, the hydro lake levels have also recovered because of the great effort by consumers thus far in reducing power use. This has meant we have been able to conserve storage water.”

Finally, a close analysis of thermal fuel stocks (gas, coal and distillate) indicated there was sufficient fuel available for electricity generation in the event that New Zealand did experience a dry spring, provided reasonable savings were maintained.

“Although winter still has a few months to run and we are certainly not yet in a normal situation, the crisis period is behind us. However, we are not out of the woods yet, and we certainly don’t want all those lights coming back on,” said Dr Strange.

“While we must still be cautious, the weather forecast is for normal rainfall over the next three months. Also, based on past experience, we are counting on a significant level of savings to continue.“

“On this basis, we have wound back the electricity riskmeter another notch and ceased the Target 10 advertising campaign.”

Dr Strange said New Zealanders’ response thus far to the call for electricity savings had been fantastic: “I know that meeting the 10 per cent savings target required a big effort by the community.”

“The approach was to call for voluntary savings early in the winter to enable people to reduce electricity use before the cold weather really hit.”

“In this case, every little bit has helped and we have seen the rate of savings climb steadily over six weeks.”


Dr Strange commended the major electricity retailers – Contact Energy, Genesis, Mercury Energy and Meridian - who had put in place incentive programmes which reward customers through significant rebates or charitable donations for ongoing savings.

“These incentive programmes will continue, helping to maintain energy savings by residential customers. We certainly don’t want all those heaters turned up high.”

“Experience tells us that many businesses will also continue with their energy savings programmes as these have become almost second nature to staff and provide ongoing cost savings by lowering power bills. Certainly, many businesses made their savings efforts permanent after the formal end to the energy savings programme in 2001.”

“We have also contacted businesses and local authorities to ask that, wherever possible, they maintain public area lighting reductions and similar programmes for at least one more month.”

Dr Strange said the Winter Power Taskforce would continue to monitor electricity demand, hydro lake levels, inflows and thermal fuel stocks on behalf of the industry for the next couple of months. Savings and hydro storage levels will continue to be updated daily on the taskforce’s website, www.winterpower.org.nz.

ENDS

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