20 Jul 2008

Plug set to be pulled on power savings campaign

2:52 pm on 20 July 2008

A nationwide power saving campaign is set to end soon.

The Winter Power Group expects this week to be the last in which the public is urged to save electricity because of low hydro lake levels.

Domestic power usage in the past week was nearly 5% down on a year ago and industry users have saved another 2%.

The group says water in the South Island storage lakes now stands at 59% of the average level, due to savings and recent rain.

The head of the group, Transpower's Patrick Strange, says normal rain patterns are now expected to continue, meaning the savings drive will probably end in a week.

Dr Strange believes savings will still extend beyond the campaign as people have got into the habit of turning off lights and unused appliances.

Wind power falls short

Meridian Energy says more wind generation capacity could have prevented the threat of a power crisis this winter.

New Zealand's largest power company says wind is more reliable than hydro power generation because it is always blowing somewhere.

It says people should not read too much into official production figures which showed Te Apiti wind farm produced only a sixth of its installed capacity during some autumn months.

Energy experts say the problem could intensify in future dry autumns if the Government presses ahead with additional renewable energy schemes.

Meridian says wind makes an ideal match for the hydro system because when there is strong wind, generators can switch away from hydro production and save water.