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Close watch on hydro lakes

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Wednesday 27th June 2001

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Hydro lake levels are showing some improvement but are still causing the Government concern.

Energy Minister, Pete Hodgson, says latest information shows storage in the country's hydro lakes has risen to 73% of their seasonal average, up from 69% last week.

However Lakes Pukaki and Tekapo in the central South Island remain close to their minimum levels, with Tekapo at 47% capacity and Pukaki at 50%.

Together the lakes account for 60% of New Zealand's national hydro storage, feeding the power stations in the Waitaki system.

"Storage and inflows remain notably below average for this time of year and continued improvement will be necessary to bring further downward pressure on wholesale prices, " says Mr Hodgson.

Wholesale electricity prices have fallen from their peak of around 23 cents per kilowatt hour 11 June to around 17cents.

On energy, the Natural Gas (NZSE: NCH) electricity retail subsidiary, put up its retail prices a few weeks ago to try to stem losses from the increased wholesale rates but promised to drop its charges once wholesale prices fall to acceptable levels.

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