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Commission must think wider than just electricity

13 April 2005

Commission must think wider than just electricity

The Green Party is welcoming the Energy Minister's direction to the Electricity Commission to investigate alternatives to Transpower's proposed 400 kV powerline through the Waikato.

"The Greens have been campaigning since last November for proper consideration of a package of alternatives that find other ways to meet Auckland's energy needs," Greens Co-Leader and Energy Spokesperson Jeanette Fitzsimons said.

"I have set out at meetings around the country over the last five months a proposal for a package that includes energy efficiency upgrades, small-scale generation close to the user, direct use of natural gas in Auckland homes, and use of waste wood for industrial co-generation and home heating in Auckland and Northland.

"The problem has always been that no-one has had the responsibility to investigate, quantify and cost these options, in the way that Transpower investigates, quantifies and costs power lines," she said.

"Now, the Minister has changed the Commission's job from just assessing the alternatives to investigating them. That is a huge victory for the people of New Era Energy who have been campaigning very effectively against this unnecessary intrusion on their lives."

However, Ms Fitzsimons said she would be seeking clarification on one aspect of the Minister's statement which was not clear.

"The Commission only has responsibility for electricity. It can look at generating electricity, transmitting electricity and saving electricity. It is not clear that it can also look at using gas or waste wood in order to save electricity.

"This is the key to the question of whether it will be able to assess the proposed lines against all genuine alternatives. If it is not clear now, the Minister must clarify that this is within the scope of the Commission's brief.

"It also is very heartening that the Commission's brief has also been widened to allow it to consider environmental effects, rather than just the costs to the electricity industry and consumers," Ms Fitzsimons said.


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