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Make the power conservation call now, Minister

Gerry Brownlee MP
National Party Energy Spokesman

30 May 2008

Make the power conservation call now, Minister

National Party Energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee says the only reason David Parker is holding off calling for electricity conservation is that he’s hoping he won’t have to deal with another energy crisis in election year.

“Mr Parker should be issuing a call for energy conservation. He has already made some timid noises about government departments saving power, but he refuses to accept the scale of a problem which is front of mind for everyone in the industry.”

Mr Brownlee says the fact that the Climate Change Minister has welcomed the recommissioning of a mothballed thermal power plant to get us through winter shows how finely balanced the situation is.

“For instance, Mr Parker could do something as simple as calling for consumers to run off non-essential lighting and appliances.

“The Cook Strait cable is sick, the asbestos-riddled New Plymouth power station’s being brought back to life, and we’re burning millions of litres of diesel generating emergency electricity at Whirinaki.

“Meanwhile, the hydro lakes are well below average and set to remain so. The longer the Minister refuses to accept there’s a problem, the more he increases the risk of more serious blackouts down the track.

“All it would take is a breakdown and New Zealand’s security of energy supply could run into serious trouble.

“Labour set up the Electricity Commission to make sure there wasn’t a need for these 1-in-60 dry-year conservation campaigns. Currently, they're happening every few years.

“Given that the commission has cost the taxpayer $230 million, the public has a right to question whether it has been money well spent.”


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