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Minimum hydro lake levels

Minimum hydro lake levels

Energy Minister Pete Hodgson confirmed today that lowering minimum hydro lake levels is a possible response to the prospect of power shortages this winter, but said it was "well down the list".

Mr Hodgson said the government was exploring a wide range of options to reduce demand for electricity and increase supply.

"Cabinet has made no decision to legislate for lower minimum levels in hydro lakes, nor has it considered any formal proposal to do so," Mr Hodgson said.

The National government in 1992 enacted legislation allowing for lower hydro lake levels as a temporary emergency measure.

"Lowering minimum hydro lake levels as an emergency measure is not a new idea," Mr Hodgson said. "I am not ruling out the possibility that the government might have to consider it, but there are good reasons for leaving it low on the list of possible responses to the prospect of power shortages.

"Minimum hydro lake levels are set to avoid environmental risks that arise if lakes are run very low, such as summer dust storms and disturbance of wildlife habitat. There is also the risk that if spring inflows are low, hydro storage for the following year can be compromised.

"It is very important to remember that the best thing we can do to help avoid power shortages this winter is to start saving power now. I urge New Zealanders to take advantage of the power saving information available through the electricity industry's 'Target 10%' campaign. That is the way to minimise the possibility of more drastic measures being needed in the months ahead."

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