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Greens ask for power-price explanation

21 January, 2004

Greens ask for power-price explanation

The Green Party is calling on the Government to fully explain to the public the reasons behind recent power-price hikes of up to 15 per cent.

"The public has every right to be confused by both the justification for the price rises and the variable rates of increase being imposed by power companies around the country," Green Co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons said today. "Some are blaming inflation, others say wholesale prices are out of kilter, others say the price hikes are necessary to pay for new generation.

"In fact, it is very difficult to disentangle price rises caused by scarcity of resources, like the end of cheap Maui gas, from price rises due to poor market structure or to power company price-gouging.

"Price rises were inevitable with end of Maui gas which, at $2 per Gigajoule, was far cheaper than anything that can replace it and cheaper than gas in most other parts of the world."

Ms Fitzsimons said there was no way of avoiding price increases, whatever replaced Maui - whether it a new gas field, wind, coal or a combination of these.

"However, this should not be an opportunity for power companies to profiteer. The Government should be reassuring the public by investigating the extent and reasons for price rises and publishing its findings, so that the public will know what is justified and what is not.

"It is inevitable that the more power demand grows, the more expensive it will be to supply as more costly resources are used. The best way to keep prices down is to reduce consumption through better energy efficiency.

"Power companies which profit from high prices are unlikely to encourage an efficiency campaign," said Jeanette Fitzsimons. "However, that's where the new Electricity Commission can make a difference, by levying the power industry to fund serious energy efficiency measures."

ENDS

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