Ardern, Collins spar over gas exploration ban after outages

Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins sparred over gas exploration in the House today after last night's controversial power outages.

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National’s leader thinks an alternative should have been in place before the ban was made. Source: 1 NEWS

National’s leader asked the Prime Minister about the issue during question time.

"Has she seen advice the proposed Lake Onslow pumped hydro scheme will be at least 10 years away from completion, and why did she ban gas exploration before any alternative was in place?" Collins said.

Ardern pushed back on the notion gas was the answer.

"Let’s be absolutely clear, the last gas find in New Zealand offshore was in 2000," she began.

"If the member believes that offshore gas was the solution to New Zealand’s future energy needs then her Government while in office would have needed to bring it online.

"Gas exploration takes years then bringing it online if you find it takes years, it would not have made any meaningful difference yesterday."

Ardern concluded her answer by adding fossil fuels are not the future, adding she has "consistently said Onslow will take 10 years to complete, which is why we are starting it now".

Ardern and Collins square off in the House. Source: 1 NEWS

The exchange comes after thousands of people were plunged into darkness last night after nationwide grid issues.

Homes from Whangārei to Wellington lost power amid freezing temperatures as not enough power had been generated to meet the evening peak, national grid operator Transpower said.

Transpower's general manager of operations, Stephen Jay, apologised for the outages.

"Firstly, I apologise to anyone who lost power last night. Certainly it’s not good getting home and not being able to cook your dinner or keep your house warm, even if it’s for a short period of time."

Jay said it is a "very, very rare occurrence" for generation to fall short of demand.

Today in Parliament, Energy Minister Megan Woods said there was enough capacity and she has sought assurance a repeat of last night's problems won't happen again.