Govt leaves NZ exposed to risk of blackouts

Comments by Energy Minister Megan Woods show an out of touch Government that is threatening Kiwis with blackouts due to its short-sighted policies, National’s spokesperson for Energy and Resources Stuart Smith says.

Today during the Select Committee’s estimates hearing, Megan Woods blamed the unreliability of thermal generation for this morning’s warning, saying that people have “the wrong assumption that fossil fuels provide stability into our electricity network.”


“Transpower advised electricity companies last month that there would be 37 days between June and August where there could be a generation shortfall, based on the modelling at that time. Sure enough, this morning we ran into an issue,” Stuart Smith says.


“Woods is to blame for the banning of off-shore oil and gas exploration and sending a clear signal to those in the industry that they are not welcome in New Zealand. That ban, along with the 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 target, is exactly why our electricity generation is reliant on intermittent sources and does not have the appropriate thermal backing.


“Last night we had very little wind coupled by three very cold winters’ days, and this perfect storm is exactly why we need gas as a thermal back-up for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.


“This morning we had to supplement the low wind levels with imported diesel and imported coal. This is outrageous when we could have used our own gas which is produced on our shores and has far less emissions in a situation like this.


“We are not half way through winter yet and there is almost no doubt we will have more cold, windless nights coming.


“The Minister should front up, say she got the oil and gas ban wrong and reverse it, so that New Zealanders can have certainty that when they turn the lights on in the morning or the stove on to cook their breakfast, it will be reliable.


“National supports the commitment to net zero and other emissions targets but the Government’s current policies threaten progress towards this goal. Gas is a transition fuel with about half the emissions of coal.”