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Time of use metering, power pricing urgent

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

Power supply parlous. Time of use metering, power pricing urgent

Spot prices for electricity at 20 times higher than normal are hitting businesses exposed to the spot price market and forcing some to close or drastically reduce production, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

"The economy is being hit hard by uneconomic power prices," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"It's time power companies and government got serious about installing time-of-use power metering and pricing for all consumers so they can see the real time price of the power they are using," he said.

"Hydro power reservoirs are plumbing record lows for this time of the year.

"We are appealing to all businesses, farms and residential consumers to conserve as much power as is practicable to conserve our hydro storage.

"In this way, all consumers not exposed to the spot market can assist those who are by reducing peak consumption and keeping New Zealand industry working.

"Consumers on contract power prices (residential and most businesses) pay the same irrespective of when they use power and have no incentive to move their consumption away from peak demand periods.

"If they did, and could shift their consumption to off peak times, the pressure to build new power generation and transmission capacity would be reduced.

"At present the electricity generators are bidding up the spot price of electricity to conserve the flow of water that generates hydro electricity but their high bids are being accepted meaning no water is conserved. The generator companies are making a killing.

"We advise businesses exposed to the spot market to look out for power spikes caused by capacity constraints. Finding out afterwards that you took a big loss and had no opportunity to avoid it is a huge risk.

"For now our plea to all power consumers is to reduce as much peak consumption as you can."

ENDS

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