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New Zealand must learn Australia's energy lessons


18 September 2000

New Zealand must learn Australia's energy lessons

Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today said New Zealand should learn from the lessons of the deregulated Australian electricity industry.

Today's Melbourne Age reports Australia's electricity industry admitting that deregulation of the national power market is largely to blame for the massive surge in Australia's greenhouse emissions.

The Electricity Supply Association of Australia says deregulation has favoured the cheapest but most polluting forms of energy production, like coal, and admits it is unlikely that market forces would lead to a fall in greenhouse emissions unless there was government regulation.

Ms Fitzsimons said New Zealand's greenhouse emissions from electricity generation were also rising fast. Three new gas-fired power stations were built in the late 1990s and a fourth is currently being discussed.

"Between 1990 - 1999 greenhouse emissions from New Zealand's electricity generation rose by 54 per cent. Between 1998 - 1999 electricity emissions rose by 34 per cent," said Ms Fitzsimons.

She said as a result of 'Take Or Pay' agreements - whereby gas companies had to pay for gas whether or not they used it - gas fired electricity plants were being scheduled to run ahead of hydro stations in New Zealand's deregulated market. "There is anecdotal evidence that water is still being spilled to waste in some of our hydro stations," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said there was a remarkable parallel between the Australian situation and the reforms of the New Zealand electricity sector.

The Age reports that "companies under pressure to maintain revenue had dropped energy conservation programmes aimed at reducing demand. Research spending on efficiency had dropped from $30 million in 1995 to A$2 million now".

"When ECNZ was split into three competing power generation companies the energy efficiency unit (Energy Service Group) from ECNZ died," she said.

"New Zealand needs to stop and think very carefully about what the Australian experience clearly shows before we adopt an even less regulated system."

Original story from Melbourne Age at

http://theage.com.au/news/20000918/A4414-2000Sep17.html.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 07 868 6511, 07 868 6641, 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 440 090


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