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No spike in power prices due to crisis: Parker

Gerry Brownlee MP National Party Energy Spokesman

28 May 2008

No spike in power prices due to crisis: Parker

"Householders can breathe a sigh of relief - Energy Minister David Parker is promising that domestic electricity prices will not rise because of the looming winter power crisis," says National Party Energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee.

"Asked directly whether a shortage of supply would lead to price increases, Mr Parker repeated that households are unaffected by the same price movements that industry is.

"His reassurances fly in the face of what industry experts are saying, but the public will no doubt be relieved that Labour is guaranteeing no power price rises this winter."

Meridian Energy spokesman Alan Seay has said the crisis will affect residential customers as well as industrial users

Mr Brownlee says Labour has failed to future-proof New Zealand's energy infrastructure, despite setting up the Electricity Commission to guarantee the security of supply in dry years.

"The Electricity Commission has cost taxpayers $230 million, but these 1-in-60 power saving campaigns are still occurring once every few years.

"If that's not a testament to the commission's failure, I don't know what is."

Mr Brownlee also notes that in Parliament today, Mr Parker hailed the partial recommissioning of the New Plymouth thermal power station to get the country through winter shortages.

"Things are so desperate that an ageing, inefficient, gas-fired plant that is riddled with asbestos is having to be pressed back into action to join the rest of the thermal plants running flat out to keep the lights on.

"Cook Strait's Pole 1 cable, which was at risk of a 'catastrophic failure' causing fires and mercury vapour, is also being used, while the emergency plant at Whirinaki has burned 10 million litres of diesel already this year (140,000 litres last year) and run for 52 days.

"But at least if the lights do go out, we won't suffer the indignity of power price rises as well. David Parker's promised us that."

ENDS

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