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More national guidance on electricity transmission

17 August 2006

More national guidance on electricity transmission

The government has launched work on a nationally consistent framework to support and protect electricity transmission across New Zealand under the Resource Management Act 1991.

Economic Development Minister Trevor Mallard, Environment Minister David Benson-Pope, and Energy Minister David Parker say the work being undertaken recognises the need to safeguard the country’s security of electricity supply.

The ministers said the work would provide consistent guidance across New Zealand for the management and future planning of the national grid.

Trevor Mallard said that currently there are inefficiencies for local authorities, Transpower and communities, with different rules applying to the same types of activities and assets.

“More consistency throughout the country will benefit all these interested parties.”

At present, there is no national framework that local government can use when they have to decide on proposals for transmission lines.

The framework will be laid out in a National Policy Statement on electricity transmission.

“As well as acknowledging the importance of the national grid, the policy statement will ensure there is a balance between the national benefits and local effects of electricity transmission,” said David Benson-Pope.

The policy statements will set the overall policy framework within which individual projects will be considered, but does not address individual electricity transmission projects.

A National Environmental Standard on electricity transmission will define minor activities required to operate and maintain the national grid which Transpower can undertake without requiring resource consents.

David Parker said that to further ensure security of the national grid, the government has also requested that an additional standard be investigated that would specify activities in the vicinity of the electricity transmission network which should be controlled in a nationally consistent manner.

"For example, in some cities we have power pylons surrounded by houses, which are now difficult to access for maintenance or replacement.

"To help address this, Transpower will need to be consulted when resource consent applications are made for activities which could impact upon the grid."

A possible environmental standard setting out acceptable and unacceptable levels of electric and magnetic fields associated with electricity transmission is also being investigated.

The national policy statement and standards will build on the work done by a reference group made up of central and local government officials, Electricity Commission, Transpower, Federated Farmers and Business NZ representatives, set up in 2005 which recommended the development of an NPS and NES for transmission.

The work on electricity transmission will apply to the network of pylons, power lines, and substations across the country. It will not apply to the infrastructure of electricity generation or that of local electricity distribution companies.


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