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Power crises in 2001, '03, '06 & looming in '08

Gerry Brownlee MP National Party Energy Spokesman

1 May 2008

Power crises in 2001, '03, '06 & looming in '08

National Party Energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee says Labour's total failure to future proof our energy infrastructure is about to be laid out in front of New Zealand households.

"There have been three electricity crises since 2001, and now another one is looming in 2008. A reliable energy supply is critical to this country's economic growth and the future for all New Zealanders."

Mr Brownlee says Labour will again attempt to put all the blame for this year's looming crisis on the weather.

"They do it every time. These so-called '1-in-60 dry-year events' are proving to be far too common, and the excuse far too convenient. After the electricity crisis of 2003 the Electricity Commission was set up to guarantee security of supply.

"Since then every electricity consumer has paid for its existence, with a bit extra on their bill. It has been an abject failure."

Mr Brownlee says Labour has added just 817 MW of new base load generation capacity in the past eight years, about 100 MW a year.

"This lack of supply is causing the repeated shortages. There has been a 48% rise in prices over the past five years - and we're seeing big spikes in spot prices at the moment."

Yesterday, South Island spot prices rocketed to more than five times their average values, reaching between 40c and 50c a kWh in the afternoon, levels unseen since April 2003.

"The Major Electricity Users Group says some large users have been scaling back production because of the high spot prices - so the economy is already being harmed.

"The winter electricity crisis committee is today reciting the usual range of excuses, but surely the buck stops with the Government and the Minister."

ENDS


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