Woods blamed the market, but the fault was with the state owned monopoly

Hamish Rutherford reports:

A review into why tens of thousands of households faced power cuts on the coldest night of the year found it only happened because Transpower did not understand how much demand was happy to be shut down. …

On August 9 around 34,000 households had their power turned off, after Transpower instructed local lines companies to shed load to prevent wider outages.

Initially, attention focused on record electricity demand and the behaviour of generators, with thermal power stations operated by Contact and Genesis not running on the evening in question.

Energy Minister Megan Woods initially claimed “commercial decisions” were behind the problem.

So Woods blamed the partially privatised generators and the market.

But a review by former Labour MP Pete Hodgson and technical adviser Erik Westergaard concluded that irrespective of the demand and availability of generation, there was no need for the cuts to happen at all.

“Forced disconnection of household electricity was entirely avoidable,” the report said.

Hodgson and Westergaard found that there was enough “discretionary load” – effectively users prepared to turn off if the system needed it – to cope in the circumstances, but Transpower did not understand what it had at its disposal.

So the fault was entirely with the state owned monopoly.

Will the Minister apologise to the generators?

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