“Wake-up call for industry” frustration over possible power cuts; Christchurch’s coldest mornings tomorrow

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
May 09, 2024 |

Graphic: Metservice

The Consumer Advocacy Council expressed disappointment after Transpower announced potential power cuts – just as Christchurch prepares for its coldest morning of the year.

Electricity grid operator Transpower issued a warning notice saying there could be insufficient generation to meet demand between 7am and 9am on Friday, and urged people to save power.

Christchurch’s temperature could plunge to -4 overnight.

Council Chair Deborah Hart said the warning 24 hours ahead of the projected supply shortage gave the industry time to act and prevent power cuts to consumers.

While consumers can contribute by reducing usage, she said that the energy industry ultimately needs to take the lead in managing these challenges.

Hart said “It’s disappointing this has happened so early in the winter, but it’s a timely wake-up call for the industry.”

She pointed out that New Zealand’s growing population and increasing electrification have created a long-term challenge to manage winter peak demands.

The Council advocates for significant reforms to the wholesale market, ensuring sufficient renewable energy is available year-round.

Despite ongoing development efforts in generation capacity, consumers continue to receive the same pre-winter warnings from Transpower, indicating the possibility of power cuts.

Hart also highlighted that contracts like the recent Rio Tinto-Meridian deal include agreements to reduce load during winter if necessary, which undermines confidence in the electricity system.

“The solutions lie in the hands of the industry, the Government and regulators. If we don’t make progress, there will be more warnings like today and a heavy price will be paid by consumers, small and large,” Hart said.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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