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Energy Crisis Being Swept Under Carpet, Says Roy

Energy Crisis Being Swept Under Carpet, Says Roy

News that production at the Tiwai Aluminium Smelter could suffer again this winter demonstrates a lack of will on the part of the Government to deal with the growing energy crisis, Invercargill MP Eric Roy said today.

Hydro lake levels are now lower than they were at this time in 1993, the last year of organised power cuts, Mr Roy said.

“The Energy Minister is well aware of the $60 million-odd losses in export revenue caused by NZ Aluminium Smelters having to cut back production during the power crises in 2001 and 2003. What is his response to the latest crisis? Energy Minister David Parker says the Government is developing a National Energy Strategy! By the time it is developed, we’ll all be reading it by candlelight,” Mr Roy said.

“Tiwai contributes over a billion dollars in export revenue annually.
To leave a business like that with uncertainty over the electricity supply is an economic disaster. The Government has known for six years that we need extra generation. They were told in select committee on Thursday that electricity supply for the coming winter is very tight. What does the Minister do? He sits on his hands.”

“The spot price of electricity rose by over 30% last week and it’s tipped to keep going up. The Government refuses to take steps to ensure security and consistency of electricity supply for New Zealand,” Mr Roy said.

Mr Roy said the lack of action by the Government not only meant lost production and export revenue, but it also meant those most at risk in a cold winter could also face blackouts.

“The Minister says he may consider firing up the Whirinaki power plant to relieve the crisis. But this will take another report, and in the meantime the electricity providers, businesses, and the general public all face another winter of energy uncertainty,” he said.

‘Developing models”, “developing strategies’, and ‘receiving reports’ were no substitute for getting on with resolving the issue of insufficient generation, which had been left in abeyance for too long, Mr Roy said.

“You can be assured the Minister won’t be the one left in the cold and dark come a blackout. He’ll assure us that he’s awaiting a report as we all freeze. Well, New Zealand needs action – and now – to avoid lostrevenue and keep our living standards in the first world,” Mr Roy said.

ENDS

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