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Copeland: Greens off-track in power price debate

Media statement
For immediate release

Thursday, 22 January 2004

Copeland: Greens off-track in power price debate

United Future energy spokesman, Gordon Copeland, today called for sensible and realistic debate over power price rises.

“It is right for electricity consumers to engage in vigorous debate with the power generators following Empower’s announcement that prices for its 70,000 North Shore customers will rise by 15%,” he said.

“It’s a huge jump in one hit for one of life’s basic commodities and, like any other major price increase, needs to be explained and justified.

“It is true that New Zealand needs new power stations and that free markets will see prices begin to rise in advance to reflect the cost of bringing new plant on stream given the present tight supply situation.

“However,” Mr Copeland said, “I am dismayed that Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons accepts that price increases are inevitable because electricity from Maui gas will be replaced by thermal power stations.

“We should not be jumping to that conclusion for both price and environmental reasons.

“Surely hydro generation which is both environmentally safe and sustainable is to be greatly preferred to new power stations which wastefully burn non-renewable gas, oil or coal. I am amazed that the Greens accept that, since this activity also spews polluting carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.

“Jeanette Fitzsimons’ comments highlight the unbalanced environmentalism which has infected both the Green and the Labour parties.

“On the one hand the government flatly rules out cheaper hydro schemes at Dobson on the West Coast and Beaumont on the Clyde River whilst giving the thumbs up to thermal generation.

“Why? It’s surely myopic to rule out commonsense win/win situations for both electricity supply and environmental values using hydro, and instead turning to the woeful inefficiency and the environmental harm of fossil fuels.”

Ends

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