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Govt misleads over energy supply

Hon Nick Smith
National Party Energy Spokesman

9 April 2006

Govt misleads over energy supply

National’s Energy spokesman, Nick Smith, is taking the Government to task over the Electricity Commission’s error in assessing the risk of blackouts this winter.

“Energy Minister Trevor Mallard is misleading the public in saying the significant error arose as a result of a ‘new unplanned arrangement’ to take a generator at Huntly out of action for a period of time.”

Dr Smith says there was nothing new or unplanned about Genesis taking one unit out of generation to install a new computer control system.

“Furthermore, Genesis told the Electricity Commission on March 10 that its numbers were wrong. The Commission did nothing and neither did the Minister.

“It is time the Government came clean with the public about how this error occurred and the real state of our electricity supply. Fudging the issue will only undermine confidence in the Electricity Commission and increase fears of a severe power crisis this winter.

“Security of electricity supply is absolutely critical to business confidence and the functioning of a modern society. The public must be able to rely on the Government and its agencies that are responsible for administering the electricity system.

“That confidence took a serious hit three weeks ago when the commission said it was a myth that we did not have enough electricity for the winter and accused the expert industry players of scaremongering – the commission is now saying those industry representatives were quite correct.

“The Electricity Commission’s credibility was damaged last week when it raised the ‘minzone’ and emergency zone by 15% after it found it had under-estimated generation capacity.

“There needs to be an inquiry into how the Electricity Commission got its numbers so wrong. The inquiry must put in place a system to ensure future risk assessments are much more accurate,” says Dr Smith.


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