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Fess-up on power shortages

Gerry Brownlee MP
National Party Energy Spokesman

21 February 2008

Fess-up on power shortages

National Party Energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee says Labour’s failure to future-proof our energy infrastructure is to blame for looming electricity shortfalls this winter.

“After eight years in office, Labour has utterly failed to future-proof our energy infrastructure.”

Mr Brownlee is commenting after a second state-owned power company CEO told the Commerce Select Committee the chances of avoiding brown outs and heating cuts this winter look bleak. This comes hot on the heels of concerns raised by Meridian’s Keith Turner.

“Today, Genesis boss Murray Jackson told the committee that at winter peak the North Island would be 1000 M/Ws short of supply – that’s at least one million one-bar heaters. The Winter Power Group has met again today – if there was no problem, they wouldn’t be meeting.

“So why can’t the Minister, the Electricity Commission, and Transpower publicly acknowledge what everyone else in the industry knows? They should admit there’s a problem and plan to get through it, avoiding public shock at cold showers, industrial shut-downs, and dimmed street lighting.

“In 2003, Labour responded to a dry-year event by setting up the Electricity Commission, which Helen Clark said would ‘ensure that there is sufficient standby generation in dry years’. (10 February 2004)

“So what’s gone wrong?

“Secure energy supply is critical to our economic growth.

“Instead of creating new bureaucracies, and in doing so insulating itself from political blame, Labour should have been working hard to ensure we have security of energy supply in dry years.

“Labour has had eight long years to come to grips with the fragility of our energy sector. They clearly don't have any answers.”


Helen Clark said the Electricity Commission would ‘ensure that there is sufficient standby generation in dry years’. (Prime Minister’s statement, 10 February 2004, see

“A new Electricity Commission will secure reserve generation to ensure New Zealand’s electricity needs can be met even in very dry years without power savings campaigns.” (Pete Hodgson, 20 May 2003, see

“The Commission will be directed to manage the sector such that electricity demand can be met in a 1-in-60 dry year without the need for national conservation campaigns.” (Pete Hodgson speech, 17 June 2003, see

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