The Grey Power NZ Federation, representing senior citizens, has reacted with anger to the power outages which left thousands of homes across the North Island without electricity for several hours on Monday night, one of the coldest of the year.
Federation President Jan Pentecost says it was particularly concerning that the blackout appears not to have been caused by a lack of generating capacity but a decision to hold back on starting up additional generation in spite of advice that demand was going to be very high that night.
“If that is true, and our advice suggests that it is, apologies and even ‘rolling heads’ will not be enough.”
Mrs Pentecost says the outage, and the causes for it, are as clear a signal as it is possible to give that the system of managing and reticulating electricity is broken beyond repair and a complete overhaul of the industry is now a matter of urgency.
“We have had a steady move away from all other sources of heat-energy in the past few years in favour of electricity and many people, particularly the elderly, are now totally reliant on an uninterrupted supply, not just to keep warm on cold nights but to stay alive.”
Mrs Pentecost says electricity was much more than a commodity from which to make profits, as the current system does, but an essential service for the maintenance of life.
“Some people with serious medical conditions are totally reliant on electricity for life supporting appliances and we are very lucky the outages did not result in fatalities.”
Mrs Pentecost says her federation would be making an urgent submission to Government to treat the supply of reliable electricity with the same degree of importance as freshwater and clean air.