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Time to fire up Whirinaki, says National

Hon Nick Smith National Party Energy Spokesman

2 March 2006

Time to fire up Whirinaki, says National

National's Energy spokesman, Nick Smith, says the Government's reserve power station at Whirinaki should be fired up immediately to save water in the hydro lakes for winter.

"The Labour Government has its head in the sand over the seriousness of New Zealand's electricity supply shortage. Lake levels are, at the moment, lower than they were at the same time in 1992, 2001 and 2003 when electricity crises developed.

"It makes no sense for Whirinaki, commissioned at the time of the last power crisis, to be idle and for us to be using up water that can be stored for winter.

"The Government must take on board the serious concerns of Meridian and Genesis, who both say the Electricity Commission is wrong and that Whirinaki should be used now.

"Electricity consumers have all been levied to pay for this $150 million power station. It is a farce for it to lay idle while a crisis looms.

"Firing up Whirinaki now is about being practical rather than following the Electricity Commission's academic model which will see us wait until electricity prices top $200 per MWh, compared with $132 at the moment.

"The Government will have egg all over its face if it ignores the advice of the experts at Genesis and Meridian who say we should use this power source now, only to have the lights go out in winter because of insufficient water," says Dr Smith.

ENDS

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