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Hydro competition wastes water


Monday 28th August

Hydro competition wastes water

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today that electricity reforms have resulted in incentives for wasteful game-playing by hydro stations which will contribute to the "browning of New Zealand".

Speaking at the Energy 2000 Symposium in Auckland, Ms Fitzsimons said hydro stations now generated less electricity than before the reforms from the same water flows, resulting in more use of gas than necessary.

"Hydro stations in competitive ownership have the opportunity to hold water back when it is needed or send it down the spillway without generating any electricity, just so they can get a higher price when they feed their electricity into the grid, or a strategic advantage over a competitor," said Ms Fitzsimons.

The price that hydro stations receive for their electricity depends on who else is feeding into the grid during that half hour period.

Splitting up ECNZ by National governments has given hydro stations an incentive to play their water flows off against each other and against gas stations, some of which they own, instead of acting in the best interests of the country, said Ms Fitzsimons.

"That's just economics gone insane. I think consumers would be really angry if they knew that New Zealand companies were wasting the country's valuable resources just to keep their profits higher."

Ms Fitzsimons said without co-ordination, there would never be a return to efficient use of water. As a consequence, gas use and pollution would continue to grow.

"If we don't find some way to treat the hydro stations as an integrated system, then they will continue to use our water wastefully. We don't necessarily have to reintegrate ownership, but it does mean we have to find a method to run hydro stations according to an agreed most efficient use of water for the whole country."

Ms Fitzsimons also said the governance board recommended by the Caygill Enquiry in June was a recipe for further disasters in the use of renewable energies.

"A board chosen by the market participants and setting the pricing rules is effectively a cartel which will protect the interests of the current participants, and work against the consumers, small generators of renewable energy, and the environment."

A copy of Jeanette's speech is available from the Green Party media office on request.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 025 586 068 Gina Dempster, Press secretary; 04 470 6723 or 021 1265 289

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