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Labour puts its head back in the sand on power

Labour puts its head back in the sand on power

The National Party is rubbishing the Energy Minister's announcements today about new power generation.

"This is nothing more than sophistry and spin designed to try and get Pete Hodgson out of hot water," says National Party Energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee.

"Industry estimates suggest New Zealand needs 150 mega watts of new power each year to keep pace with population and economic growth.

"Pete Hodgson has misleadingly claimed that his Government is meeting that need with 500 megawatts of new power since 2000," says Mr Brownlee.

"The reality is quite different, when 380 of those 500 megawatts were commissioned ten days after the 1999 election.

"So he's claiming credit for the Otahuhu B plant, which was built under the previous National Government, yet he won't take responsibility for his own Government's failings.

"Pete Hodgson is also claiming there'll be 900 megawatts of new generation by 2006, but almost all of it is being generated using gas or oil and some of it hasn't even left the drawing board.

"It's clearly a knee-jerk reaction to a situation that's deteriorating by the day because consumers are unconvinced by the Government's conservation campaign," Mr Brownlee says.

Meanwhile, Mr Brownlee says Government red tape is partly responsible for Trustpower's decision to withdraw from the Wellington and Christchurch residential electricity markets, reducing competition.

"Right now, Trustpower would be 18 months away from commissioning a new power station near Greymouth if the Conservation Minister wasn't so determined to protect the gorse that's growing at the site of the proposed Dobson hydro dam," says Mr Brownlee.

"There's no doubt that project would have given Trustpower more flexibility to absorb price fluctuations in the wholesale market and stay on in Wellington and Christchurch. "Simply, there are really two issues that will continue to stand in the way of new generation: the RMA and uncertainty about the costs of Kyoto.

"Pete Hodgson won't be doing anything about either," Mr Brownlee says.

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