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The need to prepare for sour times

Media Release

30 March 2004 - Wellington

The need to prepare for sour times.

The glee shown by environmentalists, The Green Party and like-minded individuals at the scrapping of Meridians Project Aqua will be short lived as the real economic, social and environmental costs of a severe lack of supply of abundant, reliable and affordable energy in New Zealand becomes clear.

The cancelling of Project Aqua combined with the fact that the Maui gas field production is about to tail off in a year or two means that New Zealand will experience an energy supply shortfall of something like 14,000 Gigawatt hours a year the equivalent of 5 Project Aqua’s within the decade. Currently there are no real plans to meet this demand. The current Government is dithering and the financial risks by the market players is too great to permit progress – we are faced with a real dilemma.

The economic costs particularly in forthcoming dry years and the consequent loss of investor confidence will have significant impacts on the New Zealand economy. Chris Stone, director of Wellington firm McDouall Stuart suggests possible economic impacts as a result of increases in energy prices to be somewhere between $3 billion and $8 billion a year. Effectively a cut in GDP of up to 7%. We ought to remind ourselves that we have virtually run out of electricity twice in the last 3 years.

The sad irony is that New Zealand will be faced with only one viable alternative, to burn coal. Instead of becoming less reliant upon fossil fuels as a country we will become increasingly reliant in order to keep the home fires burning. New Zealand will have to seriously reconsider its commitment to the Kyoto protocol. Adding carbon taxes into the mix will only exacerbate the economic situation we are faced with.

PowerLess NZ warn New Zealanders of dire economic times ahead. Businesses will close, people will lose jobs, blackouts will occur, electricity will become much more expensive, consequent cost increases will flow on through the economy. We had a taste of this last year as hydro lake levels dropped to critical levels. Life is about to get much more difficult.

With Pete Hodgsons' claim “We should not be overly concerned about the future of our energy supply” (New Zealand Herald, Mar 30) it is clear the Government are not interested. It is now up to individual New Zealanders to begin considering their own preparations.

ENDS

"PowerLess NZ is a group of scientists, energy analysts and concerned citizens whose principle objectives are to alert both Government and the general public to New Zealand’s looming energy crisis. Our aim is to support development of renewable energy resources at both a private and public level, as well as encourage a firm move away from dependence upon fossil fuels."

ENDS

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