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UF wants fundamental rethink of Transpower's role

Media Statement For immediate release Tuesday, 31st January 2006


UF wants fundamental rethink of Transpower's role in NZ economy

United Future MP and energy spokesman Gordon Copeland today called on the Government to rethink fundamentally Transpower's role in the New Zealand economy.

This follows the Commerce Commission's final warning today that it intends to assume control of the company's transmission services at the end of March.

"These developments throw into bold relief United Future's repeated calls to convert Transpower to a public utility, with the sole objective of transporting electricity through the national grid at the lowest possible long-term cost to the consumer, "said Mr Copeland.

"Historically, the low cost of electricity in New Zealand gave this country a competitive advantage, which helped exporters to off-set the competitive disadvantage which results from our geographical isolation and distance from markets. That objective, in and of itself, must be pursued.

"But maintaining the lowest possible electricity cost to the consumer is of course of fundamental importance to all New Zealand households and especially to the elderly."

Mr Copeland rubbished Transpower's protestations that it needs to push up prices by a cumulative 219% over the next six years to fund new investment.

"The new investment and upgrade of the national grid should, in my view, be funded by Crown debt with repayments spread inter-generationally and over the economic life of the grid.

"Current consumers should not be lumbered with these costs. A rethink is urgent or we risk seeing the New Zealand economy going down the plug-hole."

ENDS

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