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Lesson For New Zealand In Californian Power Chaos

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today said the fact that the Californian State Government was intervening in the region's troubled electricity market showed the clear dangers of electricity deregulation.

Both the Federal and the Californian State Governments have ordered urgent measures be taken after the competitive power market in the region has failed to deliver and the region is subjected to rolling power blackouts in order to maintain power to essential services like hospitals.

"The US Government has recognised that California can only recover with increased investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy. The US Federal Government has announced urgent investment in 1500 MegaWatts of new wind power. This is 50 times the size of the Tararua wind farm (which is itself the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.)

"The Government has also announced energy efficiency standards for appliances to achieve a 30 per cent increase in the energy efficiency of air conditioning units, water heaters, clothes driers, fridges and other equipment," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"The Californian State Government is also establishing a State utility company to bring some co-ordination and integration to the region's chaotic electricity market.

"This is the clearest possible proof that the competitive, deregulated electricity model has failed to provide any level of energy efficiency or security of supply in California," said Ms Fitzsimons. "Although there are differences between the Californian model and the New Zealand model, in some respects New Zealand is more at risk because we cannot import power across the State boundary.

"This is the risk that nations and states take when they set up a market based on competition rather than co-operation. Companies compete to make money and this inevitably leads to inefficient use of power, wasted power generation potential, more greenhouse gas pollution and insecurity of supply.

"This is the risk New Zealand has been taking for several years now," she said.

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