Like most productive people, I was very happy to hear that Parliament Buildings and the Government Centre of Wellington were shut down yesterday morning by a power cut. For nearly twenty minutes yesterday, the Government was unable to meddle. That twenty-minute outage must have saved the country millions!
Any government outage is something to celebrate. If only it could have lasted longer.
I'd like to think that the outage might concentrate politicians' minds (such as they are) on the parlous state of NZ's power generation and reticulation -- particularly the former -- and the absolute necessity for an industrial economy to have power. Never mind government shutting down for twenty minutes, that's a genuine boon to the economy, but without sufficient power we simply don't have an industrial economy.
I'd like to think too that the politicians from all parliamentary parties might have taken the opportunity of the outage to think about how close we are to the limits of NZ's power generating capacity, and the consequences (not for them, but for NZ's industry) of this serious lack of capacity.
I'd also like to think that the politicians from the Labour Party might have taken the opportunity of the outage to reflect on their ban on the construction of new thermal power stations, and the politicians of the National Party might have taken the opportunity to reflect on their signing of the Kyoto Protocol when in government (which is what makes the ban on the construction of new thermal power stations necessary) and on their introduction of the Resource Management Act when in government (which makes the urgent construction of alternatives to new thermal power stations necessary, but all but impossible).
I'd like to think that all the politicians would think seriously about all of this ... but I suspect I'm expecting too much.
UPDATE 1: The Hive reports yesterday's outage presages more to come:
The blackout that struck central Wellington yesterday may be a regular occurrence unless we have a deluge down south. Major users are talking about contingency plans for their companies running a 9 working day fortnight later in the winter. Maybe small and medium enterprise should be making similar preparations.
And maybe politicians could consider their culpability.
UPDATE 2: Good to see the blackout has concentrated the minds of the media and the grey ones on the parlous state of NZ's power generation capacity. Electricity demand has been increasing at 150MW per year, while real capacity has increased at only a fraction of the number required.
We now hear from Transpower's Patrick Strange that industry is already feeling the pinch this year -- factories from Bluff to Auckland 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.