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Sealord becomes a casualty of the power crisis

Sealord becomes a casualty of the power crisis

Nelson MP Nick Smith says the closure of Nelson's single biggest employer shows how serious the electricity crisis has become.

"The Sealord Plant's decision to shut-down on Monday should provide a fresh incentive for the Government to allow more generation capacity at the top of the South," Dr Smith says.

"The Government can't go on ignoring the electricity crisis when you have 400 workers stood down at Sealord.

"Since last November National has been warning the Government that there was insufficient generation capacity and a crisis was looming.

"I don't blame Sealord for their decision to close their plant for the day, businesses should not be forced to pay 70c a unit for power, when it would normally cost just 5c," says Dr Smith.

"The company was already facing significant financial pressure from the 25% appreciation in the Kiwi dollar.

"To their credit all employees are to be paid for the day, but companies can't go on paying workers to do nothing indefinitely and the Government must take action," Dr Smith says.

"The key to solving the electricity problem is increased generation.

"The Government has made the problem worse by rejecting sensible schemes like Dobson, on extremist green grounds.

"It's also discouraging new thermal generation with the decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol ahead of Australia and the United States and it's making the Resource Management process for new generating stations even more bureaucratic.

"It is just not good enough for the Government to blame this on Max Bradford's electricity reforms," says Dr Smith.

"Whether there's a market or state model of electricity generation the bottom line is we need more capacity.

"The Sealord closure must trigger a rethink of the Dobson hydro development. The decision in 2001 by the Government to reject the 60MW Dobson station was madness and would have helped avert this problem today.

"I will be sponsoring specific legislation in the Parliament to allow the Dobson proposal to go ahead and will seek the support of key companies like Sealord to ensure it can happen," says Dr Smith.

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