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NZ hydropower drought could see leccy rationing

Frosty towel-rails as Kiwi juice dries up

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Kiwis are being urged to use less 'leccy by their government. New Zealand normally draws three quarters of its electricity from righteous hydropower stations, the most dependable form of renewable energy, but dry weather in the Antipodean hills has seen low water levels and power cuts are feared.

"It's not an emergency," said NZ prime minister Helen Clark in a radio interview quoted by the Guardian this morning. However Clark added that "it is time for people to be turning off lights in rooms they are not using, certainly not leaving the computer on all night or the heated towel rail on for 24 hours a day".

With hydropower currently offering only two-thirds of its normal output, New Zealand's fossil-fuelled power stations are running at close to maximum capacity, with few reserves left. Demand is set to rise soon as the southern-hemisphere winter sets in, and it is feared that the Kiwi grid will soon be unable to cope with early-evening peak demand. Famously, green New Zealand won't allow nuclear technology even to visit aboard ships; the country has no nuclear power.

Energy Minister David Parker reportedly estimates that evening demand will have to be cut by 15 per cent from normal unless there's significant rainfall soon.

A joint government-industry TV ad campaign is planned, asking Kiwis to pull together and use less juice. [But won't their TVs be off already? Ed]

Read the Guardian report here

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