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New government stops New Zealand power plant sale

The newly elected Labour Alliance government of New Zealand has stalled the planned sale of three hydroelectric stations by the government-owned utility Genesis Power. The hydro plants were put up for sale by the previous conservative National Party government, which was replaced on 27 November 1999 by the Labour Alliance after the general election. The new government had campaigned on a promise of stopping utility asset sales.

In a statement the government said that it believes electricity generating capacity is a vital strategic asset best held under public ownership. The three plants (Kaitawa, Tuai and Piripaia) are located on the east coast of the North Island. Known collectively as the Waikaremoana power scheme they total 135MW in capacity.

In a previous sale of generatrion assets, early in 1999 Transalta New Zealand, a subsidiary of Transalta of Alberta, Canada, paid US$42M for the 32MW Cobb hydro power station and dam in New Zealand’s South Island.