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Maui gas field outages & higher electricity prices

Maui gas field outages contribute to higher electricity prices in February

Average wholesale electricity prices fluctuated considerably during February, as North Island gas fired generation plant experienced unscheduled fuel outages. Unplanned shutdowns of the Maui gas field for several hours on 5 and 11 February halted electricity generation at Otahuhu B, New Plymouth and Stratford, and the 1000-megawat plant at Huntly was switched over to coal.

Reduced inflows also contributed to the upward pressure on prices during February. For most of the month inflows into key hydro catchments were below average, prompting some hydro generators to conserve water. At month's end, national storage was 87% of average for this time of year, compared with 98% of the average at the end of February 2002.

The national average daily energy demand for the month was approximately 97,686 megawatts, which was up 3.9% on January and 5.8% higher than in February 2002. In February 2003, temperatures were below average in many areas and the national average temperature of 16.4°C was 0.7°C less than the 1961-90 normal (source: NIWA).

The average half-hour wholesale electricity price for the South Island reference point, Benmore, increased to 7.81 c/kWh in February, up from 4.52 c/kWh the previous month. Haywards, the North Island reference point, recorded 8.72 c/kWh, an increase from 5.55 c/kWh in January. Otahuhu, often used as an indicator of upper North Island prices, also increased to 9.31 c/kWh from 6.61 c/kWh in January.

For more information on electricity prices and hydrological conditions, visit: www.comitfree.co.nz or www.nzelectricity.co.nz

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