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Thermal generation going like the clappers

Gerry Brownlee MP National Party Energy Spokesman

21 May 2008

Thermal generation going like the clappers

National Party Energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee says Energy Minister David Parker should be thinking seriously about ordering a public power saving campaign for winter.

"Hydro lake levels are now down to only 61% of average for this time of year, according to market information provider M-Co. NIWA is predicting continued dry weather during the winter.

"Two weeks ago, when the lakes were at 65 percent of average, Transpower said the lake levels were 'concerning' and that a public conservation campaign was in its planning stages."

But Mr Brownlee says that New Zealand's coal and gas fired power plants are currently running like the clappers to ensure the lights don't go out.

Figures show that in the week ending 18 May, 42% of New Zealand's electricity came from coal and gas, well up on average.

"A small malfunction at any one of these plants would be disastrous for New Zealand's security of supply.

"The diesel-fired plant at Whirinaki, described by Pete Hodgson in 2003 as the 'last cab off the rank', burned more than seven million litres of diesel in the first three months of this year, and ran every third day.

"Already we've seen industry shutting down production in response to the shortage of electricity and the high prices. Next on the list will be ordinary Kiwis.

"Labour has totally mismanaged New Zealand's electricity system. Prices for ordinary consumers have risen 50% in five years, so-called 1-in-60 dry-year events seem to be happening every second year, and the Electricity Commission has spent $230 million with very little to show for it.

"The Labour Government has utterly failed to future-proof New Zealand's electricity infrastructure."


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