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Investment in the grid boosted significantly

Hon Trevor Mallard
Acting Minister of Energy

14 June 2006

Investment in the grid boosted significantly

The Labour-led government has significantly boosted spending on the transmission grid and taken positive steps to correct the mess created by National's ideologically driven free-market approach, Acting Energy Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

"Under the last National government, investment in the national grid fell as low as just $52 million per year. National's failed free-market approach resulted in massive under-investment in the national grid and created many of the problems we are still addressing today.

"This government is spending about $300 million per year on improvements to the national grid – many times that of previous governments. In the Auckland area $83 million is being spent on grid projects. I'm also advised that capital expenditure plans currently under consideration by the Transpower board will see that figure increase even more significantly over the next few years.

"Under the last National government, responsibility for determining grid security standards was taken away from Transpower and given to electricity consumers. Ultimately, this was designed to ensure that liability for any failure rested with the consumer. It was yet another way National tried to abdicate responsibility when they were in government," Trevor Mallard said.

"If the urgent report we have requested on Monday's incident and consequent blackout of Auckland shows that more spending is needed, then we will spend more to ensure that problems are fixed.

"Rather than ducking responsibility, as National did in 1998 when Auckland was without power for 5 weeks, this government is addressing the problems and moving to fix them. Transpower and the Electricity Commission are to urgently report on Monday's incident within two weeks. This report will be reviewed by an independent expert, and necessary action will be taken promptly."

Trevor Mallard said the government had also asked for urgent advice on whether an additional substation on a different site to that of Otahuhu was needed to provide greater diversity of transmission routes into Auckland.

"Unlike National, this government has demonstrated its commitment to investment in infrastructure. I would also point out that this is exactly the sort of investment we couldn't do if we introduced irresponsible tax cuts of the scale the National Party is promoting," Trevor Mallard said.

ENDS

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