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Electricity consumers to pay for Govt's PR stunt

Electricity consumers to pay for Govt's PR stunt

The National Party says electricity consumers are already committed to paying big money for the Government's knee-jerk response to this year's electricity crisis.

"Why on earth is the consumer set to pay for new reserve year generation capacity, when Government-owned generators are spending huge money in Australia?" asks National Party Energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee.

He's commenting after Energy Minister Pete Hodgson's announcement today of a deal with Contact Energy to build a new $150 million oil fired plant at Whirinaki.

"Meridian is pouring more than $1.2 billion into assets in Australia.

"That's money that has been generated in New Zealand and it should be re-invested here," says Mr Brownlee.

"If Contact thinks the new Whirinaki plant is viable, it should be funding the construction itself, not the taxpayer," Mr Brownlee says.

"And why is Mr Hodgson rushing into this project?

"He has supposedly set up an Electricity Commission to solve New Zealand's dry year capacity problems, but he is pre-empting their work with these kinds of announcements.

"The Minister appears to be pushing ahead at his peril.

"He's imposing another layer of bureaucracy and condemning the market to more Government interference.

"The taxpayer will face huge ongoing costs because the Government has decided it will own this plant, which by Mr Hodgson's own admission will be used 'infrequently'.

"The Government has shown time and time again that it doesn't have the first clue about how to fix our long term electricity needs, today we've seen more proof of that," Mr Brownlee says.

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