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Fitzsimons calls for ongoing energy conservation

26 September 2001

Fitzsimons calls for ongoing energy conservation plan

Jeanette Fitzsimons, Green Party co-leader and Energy spokesperson said today the energy conservation campaign aimed at saving energy while the hydro lakes are low, had ended too soon.

Originally designed to run for ten weeks, the electricity savings campaign has been cut short after only five.

"Cold dry winters will happen again. We can either build a lot of new power stations we don't need most of the time, and pay higher power bills to have them just sitting there, or we can develop a plan for energy conservation with a number of levels of effort, which kicks in when the lakes get low every few years," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Electricity market figures show that at the start of this week total national hydro storage was only 53% of normal for this time of year.

"September is always a time when the lakes are low, after high winter demand and before the spring rains and snow melt. But this September is 47% down compared with an average September.

"Worse, the inflows to the lakes last week were only 94% of average for this time of year. With very low lakes and lower than normal inflows and predictions of another dry season to come, I cannot understand why the energy conservation campaign, which was bearing quite good fruit, has been turned off," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"This is not a time for extreme actions to go without power, but it is a time for cautious conservation if we are to get through the rest of the season.

"It is time to move from a crisis mentality to an awareness of energy waste and the ways to avoid it. We could aim for a target of 5% savings compared with normal, rather than the 10% which takes a bit more effort," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said if we had a plan which matched the level of effort to pre-agreed levels of storage and inflow, and started early enough on level one - just switching things off when they weren't being used - we would only rarely have to go further.

"However in a real crisis we would then have a plan to match our efforts to the lake levels. Even in a real crisis we should never need blackouts if we take action early enough to curb waste," she said.

ENDS

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