Electricity sector welcomes forestry slash inquiry

News | 24 February, 2023

A Ministerial inquiry into land use causing woody debris and sediment-related damage in Tairāwhiti/Gisborne and Wairoa has been embraced by the Electricity Networks Association (ENA).

Minister of Forestry Stuart Nash and Minister for the Environment David Parker announced the two-month inquiry on Tuesday this week (February 23).

It is to investigate past and current land-use practices and the impact of woody debris including forestry slash and sediment on communities, livestock, buildings and the environment. It will also look at associated economic drivers and constraints.

ENA chief executive Graeme Peters, whose association represents New Zealand’s 27 electricity distribution businesses (EDBs), says slash is impeding the post-cyclone restoration of electricity supply in the North Island.

“Slash is an issue for our members as it has taken bridges out and caused massive issues regarding access,” says Peters.

“The speed with which EDBs can restore power supply to households and businesses is directly compromised by this problem.

“Therefore, the ENA and its members fully support the Government’s inquiry and look forward to fewer curbs to access in the future.”

Further, Peters says even without the slash issue, the power infrastructure will not be fully restored in the North Island for another three to six months.

“What may not be widely known is the EDBs are deploying a range of temporary measures – ‘patches’ if you will – to get power back online wherever possible. Such measures, which include manual generators, are not viable long term.

“Our members are doing everything in their capacity to achieve a permanent solution as soon as possible, but there could be significant further disruption to power supply during this time.

“Our thoughts are with affected consumers and we ask for their understanding during what is already an incredibly tough time for them.”