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Declining storage levels fuel rising prices

Declining storage levels fuel rising electricity prices in April

Average wholesale electricity prices increased over April, as hydro generators continued to conserve water ahead of peak winter demand. The scheduled maintenance shutdown of the gas-fired 375 MW Taranaki Combined Cycle (TCC) station, also contributed to the upward pressure on prices. TCC went offline on April 11 and is expected to be out of service until mid-May

Inflows into key hydro catchments were below average in April, contributing to total storage levels declining by approximately 24% over the month. At month's end, national storage was 60% of average for this time of year, compared with 90% of the average at the end of April 2002.

The national average daily energy demand for the month was approximately 94,604 megawatts, which was down 2.5% on March and 2.7% lower than in April 2002. On April 8, the Winter Power Task Force asked for a 5% reduction in demand, which was later revised upwards to a 10% savings target.

Much of the country experienced extremely low rainfall in April. Most of the South Island west coast and some alpine areas had only a third of their average rainfall for the month. The national average temperature during April was 12.9°C, 0.4°C below the 1961-90 normal (source: NIWA)

The average half-hour wholesale electricity price for the South Island reference point, Benmore, increased to 19.91 c/kWh in April, up from 14.92 c/kWh the previous month. Haywards, the North Island reference point, recorded 20.41 c/kWh, an increase from 15.43 c/kWh in March. Otahuhu, which is used as an indicator of upper North Island prices, increased to 20.22 c/kWh from 16.04 c/kWh in March.

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