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Government MP's stall electricity inquiry

Gerry Brownlee National Party Energy Spokesman

20 March 2003

Government MP's stall electricity inquiry

The National Party Energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee is accusing Government MP's of protecting their own by blocking a request for an inquiry into electricity pricing systems.

"Energy Minister Pete Hodgson's made a complete hash of this portfolio, under his stewardship, all New Zealanders are now facing the prospect of yet another electricity crisis this winter.

"Auckland businesses should start booking their generators now," he says.

Mr Brownlee made the request for an inquiry at this morning's Commerce Select Committee, but he says manoeuvring by Government MP's will force a delay of at least three weeks before it's even considered.

"The Major Electricity Users Group wanted this pricing inquiry, given the huge spikes in prices over recent days," says Mr Brownlee.

At one point yesterday wholesale electricity prices, surged to 80 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to an average of around 4 cents in early January.

"I believe the inquiry should call the chief executives of SOE generators and their supporting executives, to explain their pricing policies and mechanisms, to the Commerce Committee," says Mr Brownlee.

"It's now clear there is a deepening electricity crisis occurring in New Zealand.

"Already industrial users are cutting back their electricity usage in an attempt to avoid possible 'brown outs' in the coming months, while some householders are already being urged to conserve power.

"We can't continue to ignore the State's role in this crisis, " Mr Brownlee says.

Ends

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