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What happens when the lakes run dry next year?

15 June 2008

What happens when the lakes run dry next year and the year after?

New Zealand’s electricity consumers have again been left vulnerable by the failure to ensure this country has adequate long term energy supplies, Sustainable Electricity Association New Zealand said today.

The launch of yet another winter power saving campaign tonight should be a wake-up call for this country’s electricity policy makers, said SEANZ Chairman Brendan Winitana.

SEANZ promotes small scale renewable energy. This involves small power sources
located within or close to homes and businesses (see note below).

“It is difficult to have confidence in our electricity system when consumers have again been asked to save power to keep their lights and heating on this winter.

“Centralised power generation is great when there is plenty of water, when the Cook Strait cables are operating at full capacity and thermal generation is working adequately.

“But another threat to our winter power supplies so soon after similar recent experiences shows how vulnerable the system is. More needs to be done to ensure New Zealanders have security of supply now and into the future.

“Utilising small scale renewable electricity sources – solar, wind and hydro – are one easy way forward. Picture more New Zealanders generating power where they use it - as they do in Germany, Portugal, Spain, Japan, Australia and the US to name a few countries. These countries actively encourage small scale renewables, New Zealand does not.

“The potential is vast. A recent UK report suggests that with the right incentives by 2030, British households and businesses could generate as much electricity a year themselves as five nuclear power stations and save 5 per cent of the carbon emissions produced by electricity generation. The Guardian 3 June 2008

“Likewise the Government here can do much more to unleash the potential that exists from the rich renewable resources that are available around most New Zealand homes and businesses.

“The Government’s blueprint is the 2007 NZ Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy – it aims to achieve 90% renewable generation by 2025. But it fails to advance small scale renewables. The plan simply calls for more planning yet the need for action is now.

“Even when the lakes are full again, demand is still growing by the equivalent of one New Plymouth power station a year.

“The benefits of small scale renewables are obvious and not controversial. Fewer big power stations would have to be built, fewer fossil fuels would be burnt, and less power would be lost and wasted through transporting it across the country.

“What’s more, small scale renewables mean you can have greater control over your power bills and be more confident your water will stay hot and your lights will stay on each winter. And we would be helping New Zealand’s commitments to climate change so it’s a clear win-win.

“Without a doubt these technologies can play a valuable part in meeting our energy challenges. I urge the government to seize the opportunity by supporting our fledgling industry.

“In the meantime, we hope all New Zealanders heed the publicity campaign and conserve power where they can. This can be as simple as:

 turning lights and heating off in rooms not being used
 using the microwave and not the oven
 reducing the use of dishwashers and clothes driers
 switching off power appliances so they are not in standby mode
 turning off heated towel rails for much of the day.

“Further energy saving tips can be found at

“Every little bit helps, not just your family, but especially those individuals who will suffer more if power has to be cut,” said Mr Winitana.



Small scale renewable electricity or distributed generation refers to compact technologies that generate electricity within or close to the domestic or commercial property where it is used or a commercial installation servicing a community through local lines.
 Photovoltaic solar power – special solar cells converts the sun’s energy directly into electricity
 Small scale wind power – small turbines convert wind energy directly into electricity

 Small scale hydro power – compact micro and mini hydro converts the potential energy of water into electricity
SEANZ members include:
Meridian Energy, Vector, Mighty River Power, Contact Energy, Sharp Corporation of NZ, Black Diamond Technology (BDT), Tyco Electronics, Industrial Research Ltd (IRL), Electricity Supply Industry Training Organisation (ESITO), University of Otago

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