If there’s no power crisis…

… why is Lake Hawea  going to be taken below its minimum level to generate more electricity?

Contact Energy will lower Lake Hawea below its statutorily imposed minimum level of 338m above sea level in the next few days, and says it will use the extra water very carefully.

But that was questioned yesterday by the chairman of Lake Hawea Guardians, who said Hawea and its surrounds would suffer for years if the lake falls to 336m.

The company does have resource consent to take the extra two metres – but only when it’s in the national interest to have reserve capacity. Hawea locals are questioning how this condition can be met if there isn’t a crisis.

Guardians of Lake Hawea chairman Grant Fyfe called on the Government to acknowledge that New Zealand faced a power crisis and to take steps to protect the lake. He said an extra 2m would provide only 20 more days of draw-off.

The guardians vehemently opposed any reduction below 338m, he said.

“Hawea is going to suffer the consequences for months or years to come from having a lower lake, but the country as a whole isn’t making any sacrifice.”

Mr Fyfe said minimum operating levels were introduced in the 1970s when the lake fell to 327m, exposing river deltas and causing constant dust storms that carried as far as Ranfurly.

This wasn’t good for the environment or the people in the area. Nor for stock and the dust lowered the quality of wool on sheep which grazed near the lake.

Energy Minister David Parker said the situation at Lake Hawea was a reminder that the environmental consequences of electricity production were borne mostly by people in small, distant communities, rather than in cities.

We know that – but why is Lake Hawea being sacrificed with the consequent detrimental effect on the environment, people and stock, if there isn’t a crisis?

9 Responses to If there’s no power crisis…

  1. Isn’t it a contingent announcement? They will take it if they need to. They have not yet taken it.


  2. homepaddock says:

    The ODT said: Contact Energy will lower Lake Hawea below its statutorily imposed minimum level of 338m above sea level in the next few days, and says it will use the extra water very carefully.

    I read it as they will use the water not that they will only use it if they need to, and that’s what someone from Hawea told me yesterday.


  3. Inventory2 says:

    Repeat after me – there is no crisis; there is no crisis; there is no…….


  4. hp: Contact Energy may be short of generating resources. I’m not sure that is the same as the whole generation system being short of generating resources. Yes, I am resistant to claims this is a “crisis”. Generating capacity is +/- 8.5GW while daily usage is + / – 6.75GW. We can lose up to 1.75GW before demand meeets supply…and that assumes no conservation effort.


  5. homepaddock says:

    The ODT says: The company could use the extra 2m of water in times of national interest when the electricity system required reserve capacity.

    I take it national interest means the whole country is short of power, not just Contact.

    The link to the whole story is in the post.


  6. Inventory2 says:

    No HP – “national interest” means that an election is looming, and Labour KNOWS that power cuts this winter will see them drop below 25% support.


  7. homepaddock says:

    Inventory2 – wouldn’t that be Labour interest?


  8. Inventory2 says:

    HP – doesn’t “national interest” (small n) equal Labour interest? Or am I becoming overly cynical in my old age?


  9. homepaddock says:

    Inventory – Labour interest should never be confused with either National or national interest.


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