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Govt floundering over power crisis

Govt floundering over power crisis

Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton is totally out of touch when he says the current energy supply model doesn't work, says National Energy Spokesperson Gerry Brownlee.

"The problem in New Zealand is not the market but a lack of generation, and this Government is doing nothing to progress more electricity or gas generation.

"Jim Anderton was the Deputy Prime Minister when the market sent a clear message to the Government two years ago that more generation was needed.

"It is a bit Johnny Come Lately of him to wade in and criticise now. The only thing he's got right is that the Government isn't planning ahead for energy demand.

"There is a serious energy crisis looming this winter but the Government can't do much to change that apart from encourage the public to conserve energy. Instead of just blaming the structure, is has to clear the way for more gas extraction and power generation. "New Zealand is rich in gas deposits but there is a question about the economics of extraction. As a major player in the gas industry the Government could do more to encourage gas exploration, gas extraction, gas at a good price and signal long-term gas pricing.

"The Resource Management Act is also a problem. Right now two hydro projects can't progress because they can't get consent.

"Jim Anderton and other Ministers need to be more careful of what they say about restructuring the industry. Last week Helen Clark's outburst wiped $120m of the capital value off New Zealand power companies.

"Instead of naive speculation about what it might do, the Government must get its own house in order as a major (80%) player in the industry. It has to open up more gas supply and fast track the RMA so that hydro projects can get underway.

"If you haven't got the power being produced then there will always be shortages and higher prices," Mr Brownlee said.

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