Apologists for the destructive energy policies of successive governments airily dismiss the increasing evidence of the destructive results of their anti-industrial policies -- they blithely assert that switching off heaters and changing a few lightbulbs will fix the job. And uber-apologist Energy Minister David Parker insists that the result of banning the construction of new thermal power stations and making impossible the construction of hydro is a "twenty-first century power system."
This is the "twenty-first century power system" that had its first blackout in Wellington on Monday. This is the power system that is already at capacity -- the system that is hostage to low rainfall, low wind, and the intermittent failure of aging and overstretched transmission facilities -- the sort of the failures that caused Auckland's famous blackouts a few years back.
These are the sort of apologists that give apologists a bad name.
Energy demand in New Zealand has increased at an annual rate of roughly 150MW, but energy generation hasn't. Energy generators have wanted to, but haven't been allowed to. And the result this week is news that factories from Bluff to Auckland aren't just switching off heaters and changing a few lightbulbs, they're already running fewer shifts and producing less wealth, all because of the parlous state of the present system, and with no new real generation capacity in sight.
This means we're already making ourselves poorer because of the restrictions on supply caused by the policies of successive governments. And given that construction of new generators has been made all but illegal, we've got much worse to come.
Who's responsible? There are two main culprits: The anti-industrial dream team of the RMA and the Kyoto Protocol. The ban on the construction of new thermal power stations because of our Kyoto commitments (commitments signed up to by the National Party), and the near-impossibility of constructing serious new generating capacity because of the Resource Management Act (drawn up under Labour's Geoffrey Palmer and introduced by National's Simon Upton). Between them they're making us poorer.
Fact is, we either meet that increasing annual demand of 150MW per year, or we make ourselves poorer. If we're going to have any show of meeting that continually increasing demand -- which means, to remain as an industrial economy -- we need to build new power now, so when we're in need of 750MW more in five years time it's there to draw on.
It's not enough to say we can achieve this target by "conservation." Conservation is not a source of energy, it's the complete abandonment of the goal of producing energy. As George Reisman points out, "Conservation is not a source of energy. It's actual meaning is simply using less. Conservation is a source or energy for use only at the price of deprivation of energy use somewhere else."
Our factories and producers are already being choked off. If our energy supplies continue to dwindle there can be no other result for our industrialised economic system than progressive and inexorable enfeeblement.
Is that what you want?