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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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More woes for the NZ electricity infrastructure?

21 Jun 2024

I've been a very strong critic of the New Zealand government's policy of sucking every possible dollar out of its electricity SOEs and leaving little or nothing in reserve for growth, expansion and (it would seem) maintenance.

Yesterday's fiasco North of Auckland, where a 220KV power pylon fell over in a grassy field and killed the power to most of Northland could be yet another example of this short-sighted government policy.

It was only a few weeks ago that Kiwis were warned of an upcoming $15 a month addition to their power bills in order to fund the maintenance and expansion of the national grid.

Now this.

As I've repeatedly said, *good* business practice is to set aside a percentage of profits to fund future growth and essential maintenance. Clearly there is little sign of good business practice here.

When governments demand such huge dividends that these amounts are unable to be set-aside, the result is essentially nothing more than a hidden tax on New Zealanders.

As a nation, we really can't afford these sorts of stumbles in the securing of our energy infrastructure. I shudder to think how much money was lost by businesses who found themselves unable to trade or operate yesterday. Those losses filter down into people's pockets and damage our economy.

With the transition to EVs well under way one can only wonder just how much more disruptive such power outages could be in future -- effectively leaving some stranded with no way to move around.

I've seen nothing concrete from government that suggests they're even aware of the scope and scale of this problem and even if/when they do wake up, I have grave concerns that they're in any position to turn things around in time.

Right now, anyone with half a brain and a bit of money would be silly not to invest in some form of self-generation, even if only at a limited scale.

Solar is perhaps the most viable option right now and even a few KW of generation capacity could make a huge difference in the event of protracted power outages caused by a lack of capacity or the failure of inadequately maintained infrastructure.

Even in the case of major civil emergencies, such as those increasingly likely due to climate change, being able to keep the contents of your freezer from spoiling could make a huge difference to one's chances of survivability. Those who lived in Auckland during the 1998 power crisis will understand the importance of this.

Perhaps it's time that people stopped relying on the government to cover their arse at every turn and began to become more self-reliant in all aspects of life, including energy provision. We know that politicians are rarely the sharpest knives in the draw (or they'd have real jobs) so expecting them to be thinking ahead or keeping *your* best interests in mind is incredibly naive and dangerous.

For now, the lights are on in the Beehive but clearly nobody's home.

Carpe Diem folks!

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