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Govt keeping a close eye on electricity situation

Hon David Parker
Minister of Energy

15 February 2008 Media Statement

Govt keeping a close eye on electricity situation

The Labour-led government is keeping a close eye on the electricity supply situation, Energy Minister David Parker said.

“I’m well aware of the numerous challenges the electricity system is facing right now, and which I detailed in Parliament yesterday.

“They include the Stratford power plant being out for scheduled maintenance, the closure of Contact’s New Plymouth plant due to asbestos, limited generation capacity at Huntly due to higher than usual water temperatures in the Waikato river, and the withdrawal from service of Pole One of the Cook Strait cable.”

“The system is designed to cope with multiple challenges, and as we see right now, it is coping, which shows that it is robust, and that it is being carefully managed.

“Obviously this combination of unusual events is cause for concern. The most important factor at the moment is to restore part of Pole One which will significantly improve the situation. Transpower have said they expect to make a decision on this during March.”

The Electricity Commission has today raised the risk level relating to hydro lake levels from low to medium, in recognition of the drought that’s affecting the usual catchment inflows.

“That’s something that needs close monitoring, but it is too early to start sounding the alarm about a ‘dry winter’,” David Parker said.

“Talk of cold showers and ‘brown-outs’ is scaremongering.

“National’s energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee demonstrates his shallow understanding of how the electricity system works by continuing to suggesting residential customers will suffer sudden blackouts due to a dry winter.

“He can’t have been listening when Meridian’s chief executive Keith Turner explained to him yesterday that if supply cannot keep up with demand at peak times, then industrial users of electricity will be contracted to reduce their usage for a few hours.

“The industry is working together to plan for every contingency over winter, and exploring all options to keep the electricity system running smoothly.”


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