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Emergency power costs consumers big

Gerry Brownlee MP
National Party Energy Spokesman

25 February 2008

Emergency power costs consumers big

National Party Energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee says he understands that Labour’s emergency stand-by power generator at Whirinaki is running flat out burning up to one million litres of diesel every 24 hours.

“Remember, this was the plant that Labour commissioned to see us through the 1-in-60 dry-year events. It was commissioned after the last power crisis on Labour’s watch in 2003.”

Mr Brownlee says he has been told that the Whirinaki plant is burning between 700,000 and one million litres of diesel a day. It is one of the more expensive ways to generate power and is obviously at odds with Labour’s climate change claims.

“Consumers are facing big power price increases over winter, as energy chiefs warn of a 1,000 M/W shortfall in the North Island. That may mean cold showers and will result in industrial shut downs.

“Burning diesel is expensive and it’ll hit us all in the hip pocket. Labour has utterly failed to future-proof our energy infrastructure.

“This winter’s energy crisis is no accident. Labour has no control over the lack of rain, but they do have control over things like the Cook Strait cable and long-term investment in energy and grid assets.

“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


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