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Don't panic over Transpower's Think Big claims

26 May 2004

Don't panic over Transpower's Think Big claims

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says Transpower is playing PR games in its over-dramatic warnings about potential power outages in the northern South Island.

Transpower has said early-evening power shortages are possible this winter because of capacity restraints on the national grid. "This shock announcement by Transpower has all the marks of an attempt to panic New Zealand into building a Think Big project costing hundreds of millions of dollars, without any consideration of the alternatives," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Energy Spokesperson.

"It is inconceivable that Transpower could have been unaware of a transmission constraint that is really this urgent. Either they have kept it quiet until it suited their purposes to tell the public or it isn't really as urgent as they're claiming.

"Building more transmission lines is very costly and will affect many landowners along the route so should not be even contemplated without a proper analysis of all the options for fixing the actual problem. SOEs like Transpower are owned by the public, so should always pursue solutions that are in the public interest.

"For example, should we be building small generation plants at the extremities of the lines, closer to where the demand is, so that less power has to pass through during peak hour? Wind turbines are particularly well suited to this role.

"Or is it better to contract some commercial power users to shift their periods of greatest usage away from the peak demand on the system? It could be much cheaper to pay industries to do their maintenance at 6pm, reducing their demand while other people need the power. After all, there is only a problem on the lines at peak hours, the rest of the time there is spare capacity.

"It is the role of the new Electricity Commission to ensure that people with proposals on how to solve the peak hour constraints get the opportunity to put those ideas forward and have them funded. The Commission seems to be stepping up to this role and it must be allowed to do its job," said Ms Fitzsimons.


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