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Consumers not impressed with talk of high prices

Release: MAJOR ELECTRICITY USERS' GROUP

Any dramatic increases in electricity prices over this coming weekend will have more to do with the abuse of market power by generators not reliant on gas rather than the interruption to gas supplies caused by the pipeline shutdown according to the Chairman of the Major Electricity Users Group Terrence Currie.

He said consumers do not expect to be exploited by their energy suppliers and therefore predictions by some generators that they expect to “make quite a bit of money over the weekend” are out of line.

A number of major users of gas and electricity will be reducing their demand for electricity over the shutdown period and all energy intensive companies will be closely monitoring the situation commented Mr Currie.

“If everyone cooperates the total demand is more likely to match the available generation. The talk of high prices before the event appears to reflect the desire by some parties in the industry to exploit the situation rather than find ways of minimising any impacts. If this “talking up the price” is to cover generators bidding opportunist prices into the price setting process or to mask other ways that generators have of “gaming the spot price” consumers would find this totally unacceptable” concluded Mr Currie.

Background notes: The Maui shutdown was announced by Maui Development Limited (MDL) in a press statement on 11 April 2000. The shutdown is for three days, 12, 13 and 14 May and is needed to allow replacement of a shutdown valve at the onshore Maui Production Station at Oaonui. MDL’s statement said “This valve has the potential to cause an unplanned Maui outage at some stage in the future if not replaced.”

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