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Pylon opponents shocked at arrogance

October 24, 2006

Pylon opponents shocked at arrogance

Transpower’s decision today to submit to the Electricity Commission a revised proposal for a new 400kV line of 70 metre pylons has shocked the lobby group opposed to the line, New Era Energy.

“This new proposal has little significant difference economically from the proposal that was rejected by the Electricity Commission earlier this year. Transpower is attempting to mislead the New Zealand public into believing that their proposal is somehow a solution to Auckland’s power crises, when in reality there are better, cheaper, and less obtrusive solutions that make much more economic and environmental sense”, says Bob McQueen, a spokesman for New Era Energy.

Almost exactly two years after the first 400 KV proposal was introduced in 2002 to huge opposition and protest, Transpower continue to push this out of date technology in spite of clear signals from the Electricity Commission that the capacity of this line will likely never be needed. “It’s the ‘think big’ mentality of the SOEs of the 60s still alive and well in Transpower”, says McQueen, “and somehow the arrogant Transpower corporate culture that was the real cause of the Auckland blackout in June has to be corrected”.

Step by step upgrades to the three existing Whakamaru to Otahuhu lines, by thermal uprating, then duplexing and new technology conductor replacement, can meet the same capacity as the new Transpower proposal, without the need for a new line of monster 70 metre pylons through virgin Waikato countryside, with the blight eventually spreading rapidly throughout all of New Zealand.

The key to a long term economic and reliable electricity supply for Auckland lies in the construction of new technology thermal generation facilities in or north of the Auckland region, rather than overbuilding the national grid with outdated pylon technology to bring South Island hydro generated power north over huge distances. “This is a generation problem, not a transmission problem”, says Bob McQueen. “The limited water storage in the southern hydro lakes means that Auckland should not have to continue to rely on rainfall-dependant hydro generation at the end of a fragile 1000 kilometre transmission line. Auckland should be demanding its own secure generation capacity close at hand, and the Government should be acting to encourage urgent construction of at least one or more of the four proposals for new thermal generation plants in or north of Auckland that were announced last year. More generation in the Auckland region is what will keep Auckland’s lights on, not Transpower’s deeply flawed 400kV proposal.”

New Era Energy are relying on an impartial review of the new proposal by the Electricity Commission to come up with the same “NO” answer that it gave to Transpower for an almost identical proposal earlier this year. “We hope that the political interference that resulted in the sacking of the former Electricity Commission Chairperson, Roy Hemmingway, won’t result in a politically “forced” decision from the supposedly independent Electricity Commission.”

“We’ve seen recent evidence of the Government directly criticising and attempting to influence independent watchdogs like the Auditor General, the Electricity Commission, and the Commerce Commission” said McQueen. “We hope that the facts and the economic evidence will be allowed to be considered independently and impartially by the Electricity Commission, and that the more sensible line upgrade and Auckland region generation alternatives will again cause the rejection of this arrogant Transpower proposal”.


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