INDEPENDENT NEWS

What Electricity Crisis? The One We Stumble Into

Published: Thu 9 Aug 2001 10:50 AM
What Electricity Crisis? The One We Stumble Into If We Don't Save Power.
The Energy Link consultancy report questioning the seriousness of the current electricity supply situation is too optimistic, says Energy Minister Pete Hodgson.
The report, headlined "Crisis, What Crisis?" has been widely circulated in the electricity industry and was reported in The Dominion newspaper this morning.
"We do not yet have an electricity crisis, but we are looking down the barrel of one," Mr Hodgson said.
"If inflows to the hydro lakes stay low, as they have been all year, and we do not save power, we face the prospect of blackouts in late September or early October. Lake inflows this year are the lowest they have been since records began 75 years ago and there are no signs of a break in the weather pattern.
"Power savings of 10 percent for 10 weeks will almost certainly mean we avoid blackouts. It will be seriously bad news for New Zealand if reports like today's deter people from saving electricity.
"The Energy Link analysis effectively says we could run the hydro lakes down to record lows and trust that Spring rain and snowmelt will arrive in time to avoid blackouts. It is the sort of prediction you can make with comfort only if you have no responsibility to act in the national interest and no accountability if you turn out to be wrong.
"Energy Link also ignores the risk of further difficulties arising next year if we end this year with near-empty hydro lakes and then endure another dry period. And its assumption of no thermal generation plant failures in coming weeks is very optimistic, given that most of that plant has been running flat out for three or four months.
"My plea to New Zealanders is not to gamble on the weather. Saving power now will save the much greater inconvenience, expense and danger of blackouts later."
Ends

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