New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) says cutting production
at Tiwai Point by 5% is only a temporary measure, with no
immediate impact on staffing levels.
The company announced on Wednesday it had begun reducing its
electricity load from 572MW to 540MW, because of extremely
low hydro-electricity lake levels, with smelter production
capacity reduced by about 400 tonnes a week.
Dry weather in the South Island and North Island drought
conditions have seen hydro-electricity lake levels plummet in
Tiwai uses about 15% of the electricity produced in New
Zealand. It buys its electricity from Meridian Energy, which
operates eight hydro power generation stations, all in the
NZAS general manager Ryan Cavanagh was not taking telephone
calls from the media on Wednesday or yesterday, but company
community relations officer Andrea Carson said in a statement
yesterday there would be a return to full production once
lake levels rose.
It was difficult to predict how long Tiwai would need to
operate at a reduced electricity load, she said.
Asked if reduced production would affect jobs, she said no
impact was expected ''at this stage''.
Transpower, which monitors electricity generation and
hydro-electricity storage lake levels, said yesterday storage
in all lakes was below average for the time of year and was
continuing to decrease.
However, it assessed the risk of electricity shortages in the
next two months as low, at less than 1%.