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Electricity Commission Must Develop Alternatives

Electricity Commission must develop transmission line alternatives

New transmission lines in the Upper North Island are unnecessary and wasteful and the Electricity Commission should take responsibility for alternatives, the Green Party says.

“People are being subjected to stress, health risks, and unsightly blots on the landscape,” Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said. “They are now forced to spend valuable time and money to fight proposals to string lines over their homes because the Government has not provided for anyone to do a proper assessment of the alternatives.

“This process of weighing up alternatives needs input from the electricity, gas, building, energy efficiency, and forestry industries. The only entity that could put such a package together is the Electricity Commission. This should be one of its most important jobs but it is locked in combat with Transpower and the large generators who are being allowed to dictate the rules of the game.”

This morning, Ms Fitzsimons is speaking to the Sustainable Energy Forum in Wellington about Transpower plans for new transmission lines between Whakamaru, north of Lake Taupo, and Otahuhu, south of Auckland. She told the conference that alternatives included building small-scale power plants close to the new demand for power.

“These could be wind, wood fired co-generation in industry, or even small diesel plants to run just a few hours a year during peak demand. After all, the lines are quite satisfactory most of the time – they only run out of capacity at peak hours in winter.”

Other alternatives included paying some industrial customers to shift their peak load to off peak times, connecting many more houses to gas, energy efficiency upgrades such as lighting in homes and commercial buildings, and transmission pricing formulae which provide incentives to develop these alternatives.

“Orion, the lines company in Christchurch, has staved off millions of dollars of investment in new lines for years by using such alternatives. I call on Transpower to reconsider their plans and contemplate these other options.”

Ms Fitzsimons said the new transmission lines were ill conceived. “They don’t produce any new power. They’re just a way of transporting power we currently don’t have. They would stifle energy efficiency and small-scale renewables such as wind and solar water heaters, and encourage the building of large-scale coal fuel plants. Worse, the Government is planning to change the Resource Management Act to give these lines a fast track over the homes of the objectors.”

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