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Govt ignores energy security, risk of blackouts

The Government continues to display its ignorance about New Zealand’s energy security and appears to have forgotten the economic damage that can be caused when there is a shortfall, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.

“The Acting Energy Minister can’t guarantee New Zealand won’t face power blackouts and doesn’t accept the warnings of advisers and stakeholders that a ban of new oil and gas exploration reduces the options for maintaining our energy security.

‘Energy security is a very real concern for the New Zealand economy and ordinary New Zealanders.

“It was only seven years ago that Northland farmers had to dump millions of litres of milk when Fonterra dairy factories lost access to gas. Some 180,000 Auckland homes and businesses lost power last April after storm damage and during the long hot summer of 1998, power to the CBD was out for five weeks.

“New Zealand’s energy systems are under pressure again now with low lake levels and gas outages, which has meant coal must be burned to ensure there’s enough electricity to keep the lights on, something which the Government have said today, they don’t support.

“However, the Government appears to have no idea of the current state of play and no answer to how New Zealand will ensure its energy security as gas supplies dwindle.

“Gas is an essential element of our energy security and up until the surprise ban on new exploration, the Government had said gas would be looked at as a fuel during New Zealand’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

“It now seems to be living in hope that enough renewable energy sources will come on stream to fill any shortfall. But New Zealanders can’t take much reassurance from a Government that ignores advice from officials that its exploration ban may actually boost emissions of greenhouse gases.

“New Zealand’s energy needs are complex and shouldn’t be boiled down to political slogans to suit this coalition. A National Government would repeal this ban and take a rational approach to transitioning to a low-carbon economy.”

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