Parliament Question Time February 12, 2009
11. CHRIS AUCHINVOLE (National"”West Coast-Tasman) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: What reports has he seen about investment in the national electricity grid?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Energy and Resources) : I have today seen a report from Transpower stating that it will accelerate a $50 million upgrade programme to maintain and strengthen structures on the national electricity grid. The programme will bring forward required maintenance that had been planned to occur over the next 10 years. It will focus on tower maintenance, civil work, and substation maintenance. I am advised further that an additional $50 million of investment in conductor upgrades will be announced shortly.
Chris Auchinvole: Where will this important infrastructure work take place?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: The work will be mainly in rural areas and will take place all around New Zealand. The work will employ relatively high levels of local labour and use locally sourced materials, so it will provide much-needed economic stimulus in those parts of New Zealand.
Charles Chauvel: Has the Minister seen the description of the programme by the Transpower chief executive, Patrick Strange, as "essential maintenance work" brought forward"”that is, neither major nor new? And is not the Minister's attempt to trumpet it as "upgrading the national grid" typical of the overselling by this Government of its so-called stimulus package?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: No
Chris Auchinvole: Does Transpower have any other work planned for the electricity grid?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Yes, it does. I am advised that Transpower has over $3.8 billion worth of projects planned to reinforce the national grid. These projects either have commenced construction or are in the planning stages. The Government is currently looking at ways to fast track some of those projects by removing some of the regulatory roadblocks to that investment. There will be further announcements soon.
Charles Chauvel: I seek leave to table two statements. One is from the chief executive of Transpower describing the programme as "essential maintenance work" and one is from the Minister describing it as "upgrading the national grid".
Mr SPEAKER: If the member seriously wants to have them tabled, could we deal with the first one first. That was the statement from"”
Charles Chauvel: Transpower.
Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that statement being tabled? There is no objection. And the second one was?
Charles Chauvel: From the Minister describing this programme as an upgrade of the national grid.
Mr SPEAKER: I guess I am obliged to seek leave. Is there any objection? There seems to be no objection.