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Wellington City Council should demand electricity action

  • June 4th, 2008

Wellington is enormously exposed to loss from blackouts. We’ll suffer millions in losses from brown-outs and black-outs. We depend on our computers and broadband links. This is where the Peter Jackson industry sits, it holds the most creative of New Zealand’s IT and ICT clusters, and modern government can not function when the power is off.

National’s Energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee has summarised the paralells with the last crisis in 2003.

“The only reason David Parker appears to be holding off on announcing a conservation campaign is because it is election year, and Labour is entirely responsible for the $230 million Electricity Commission which was supposed to guard against these 1-in-60 dry year conservation campaigns.”

In mid-April 2003 lake levels were around 65% of average for the time of year. The winter taskforce called for a savings target of 10% led by a $2.6 million advertising blitz.  By the end of May the lake levels were up to 78% of normal, but the campaign for savings continued.By 6 June the lakes were up to 84% of average and Patrick Strange dropped the arm on the electricity risk meter from ‘extreme’ to ‘high’ and praised Kiwis for saving 10% over the previous couple of months.”

Labour’s election strategy is a ‘double or quits’ gamble, but our Council should not be tolerating that risk to our economy. They should be demanding an immediate conservation strategy. They should show leadership the governement will not show, by starting immediately their own conservation drive.

As Gerry Brownlee points out – “Hydro lake levels are now lower than they were leading up to the winter crisis of 2003, but by this time of the year in 2003, advertising and a full-blown conservation campaign were already underway”.

This city need not passively wait for disaster. It should step in where central government politicians are putting their re-election prospects above the interest of this city.

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