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Meridian backs improvements in national grid

Media Release For immediate release: Thursday August 28, 2003

Meridian Energy backs calls for improvements in national grid

Meridian Energy chief executive Keith Turner is adding his voice to calls for planning processes that would smooth the way for more investment in New Zealand¹s national grid.

Dr Turner¹s comments follow a statement by his Transpower counterpart Dr Ralph Craven, that mechanisms could be put in place to streamline planning processes to enable more investment in the national grid.

"The country has been served very well by the 220kv transmission system we have in place at the moment, but there has been no significant investment in that system for many years."

Dr Turner says recent events in North America have served as a reminder of what can happen when security of supply is threatened by failures in vital infrastructure.

"The New York blackout shows how critical a reliable electricity supply is to everyday life. It¹s clear that demands on that grid have grown rapidly, but there have been no improvements in infrastructure to meet them.

"As the events of autumn 2003 in this country have demonstrated, security of electricity supply is paramount for New Zealand.

"Electricity makes our lives safer, healthier and more convenient, and we cannot afford to have this threatened by a lack of investment in vital electricity infrastructure."

"We should not forget that several years ago, California was almost brought to a standstill because its planning processes had effectively cut off new investment. We would be foolish to let that happen here, and I am delighted to see that the management of Transpower are looking at ways in which planning processes in this country can be improved to expedite improvements in our national grid."

Dr Turner says streamlining of planning processes could be done without compromising the principles of the Resource Management Act.

[ends]

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