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Auckland Power Supply Update

Minister of Energy Pete Hodgson has welcomed the latest report of the working group set up in September to manage possible electricity supply shortages in Auckland this summer.

“The situation remains finely balanced, Mr Hodgson said. "But the industry is confident that power supplies will be secure, assuming no further material equipment failures.”

The reports provide an update on generator availability at Huntly, Otahuhu and Stratford.

Work towards recommissioning Contact's Otahuhu B is well under way following the repair of a transformer. Huntly’s contribution has also increased, and will rise further once the recent resource consent for discharge of cooling water to the Waikato River can be fully utilised. Increased output from these stations has improved the resilience of the upper North Island system.

Contingency plans are in place in case a further failure occurs, and a publicity campaign has been developed and will be implemented if there is a need for consumers to conserve power. However, the situation is expected to be managed without consumers noticing any impact.

Demand for electricity in the Auckland area has increased on last year by about 3%, which is in line with the Working Group’s expectations.

“I continue to be impressed with the co-operative approach of the industry in managing the risks to supply of electricity to Auckland. Electricity reforms and sensible planning are working together to minimise disruption to consumers”, Mr Hodgson said. “Co-operation of this type will be increasingly important as the Government’s proposed industry self-governance arrangements take effect.”

The Working Group’s latest report is attached, and the Group’s earlier minutes and reports are available on

2 February 2001

Hon Peter Hodgson
Minister of Energy
Executive Office
Parliament Buildings

Dear Minister

Update on Upper North Island Electricity Supplies

The purpose of this letter is to provide a brief update on the current situation and the status of the Working Group.

Current Situation
Contact Energy’s Otahuhu CCGT Power Station is generating again, albeit presently at a at reduced output as it progresses through its testing phase. It is expected to return to full output next week.

Huntly Power Station generation has been sufficient to avoid any contingency measures needed to be employed. This is due to favourable weather conditions giving lower than expected Waikato river temperatures. Huntly’s output can be expected to increase further once Genesis is able to fully utilise it’s new resource consent.

Demand for electricity in the Auckland region has grown by approximately 3% which is in line with the Working Groups’ forecasts. Demand for reactive support has also increased slightly which suggests air conditioning and industrial load is a major contributor to the additional demand.

On the evening of Wednesday, 31 January 2001 there was a failure of a major Transpower capacitor at Otahuhu. The equipment was under two years old and the failure was unexpected. Whilst there was a voltage dip when the fault occurred, there was no loss of supply other than some reported instances of consumers’ own equipment tripping their load due to the voltage dip.

As sufficient generation was available to maintain reactive support, security of supply is not compromised as repairs progress. It is also good to note that a further safety net is the agreement reached with Contact Energy for Mvar support from Otahuhu A power station.

Stratford Power Limited’s Taranaki power station tripped on Thursday, 1 February, 2001, but was returned to service 5 hours later. The tripping of the power station did not cause any loss of supplies as other generators were available to provide cover.

Working Group Status
The working group has concluded that with the current availability of generation and the knowledge of demand growth, the situation can be considered to be normal. However, as confidence is needed in the stability of the situation and we have decided to place the working group on “stand by” rather than wind it up at this stage. We envisage full confidence will be achieved by the end of February 2001.

Unless there is an event which significantly changes the situation, my next communication to you will be the final report from the working group in five week’s time.

Please contact me if you require anything further.

Yours sincerely

Bill Heaps
General Manager Sales & Marketing

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