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Energy efficiency can't be ring-fenced

27 September 2001

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said that today is a landmark for energy efficiency and conservation in New Zealand, with the release of the first ever national strategy.

This strategy is required under Ms Fitzsimons' Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act which became law last year.

"But we can't leave energy efficiency and conservation ring-fenced off to the side while the main energy supply decisions continue unaffected. The challenge now is to bring them to the centre of energy policy decisions.

While the strategy was being written, two new huge thermal power stations have been given planning consents, with no input from the Government.

"This will increase non-renewable energy use, delay the building of wind power and increase greenhouse gas emissions.

"Road transport is still increasing, but there is still no plan to revitalise the rail system. Rail freight is five times more energy efficient per tonne kilometre than road freight.

"I'm pleased to see targets for improvements in energy efficiency technology, and for the development of renewables. However, more could be done on energy conservation, those changes in behaviour that can protect us from blackouts when the hydro lakes are low.

Ms Fitzsimons said she would like to see a contingency power-saving plan prepared for the next time that the lakes run low.

"It could all be pre-planned, so as the lakes drop to different levels, we can activate different stages of power-saving. If we had a strong plan that could counter-act hydro shortages, then we could avoid building extra power stations which would spend most of their time sitting idle."

Ms Fitzsimons said if savings started early enough on level one - just switching things off when they weren't being used - we would only rarely have to go further.

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