• John Luxton

Acting Minister of Commerce, Hon John Luxton, this afternoon opened the Combined Cycle Power station in front of an audience of 250 people at Stratford.

"Today ?s opening marks the culmination of eight years of planning, negotiation, construction and testing. I congratulate you all on showing such confidence in your industry, your region, and your people," Mr Luxton said today.

The new plant is jointly owned by TransAlta New Zealand, Fletcher Challenge and Mercury Energy.

"We have here the most efficient commissioned gas-fired power station in the country, with a thermal efficiency of 58% and generating 8% of New Zealand's electricity. It is leading edge technology which will help improve New Zealand's international competitiveness.

Mr Luxton, who was Minister of Energy in the early 1990s when electricity reform began, said that electricity is a notable input to practically all areas of the economy. "We spend about $2.7 billion a year on electricity, so it was obviously an important target for reform."

The Minister noted that these were still times of change in the industry, but times of change bring opportunities he said.

The Minister said there had been much input by many people. " I am sure you all share a sense of achievement in marking the completion of the development part of this project, and are now looking fowrd to the power stations operational life. I wish the partners in this venture every success," the Minister concluded.