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War Economy

Power Difficulties for Manufacturers

Power Difficulties for Manufacturers

As shortages of electric power became more serious, it was necessary to restrain the increasing demands for power for industry. This was a ticklish problem of control. The war effort required increasing production and the establishment of new industries. It would be stultified if producers were starved for power. From 1943 the Factory Controller worked with the Electricity Controller, giving advice on priorities for the supply of power to new industrial page 434 machinery. Power Boards were required by an Electricity Control Order1 to get approval before connecting electricity to plant extensions or to new equipment. The position became especially difficult in Auckland, where the faster rate of expansion of population and industry aggravated supply shortages. It became necessary to weigh up the need for each new product against the competing needs for the scarce power the new installation would consume.

Increasing power shortage led to a very restrictive application of the Electricity Control Order, and the position became so serious as to lead, in April 1945, to a direct conflict between the Factory Controller's policy of increasing essential production and the Electricity Controller's efforts to conserve power. The Factory Controller complained that ‘Under existing conditions critical production is being hampered by the non-supply of power.’2

As a result of this clash, War Cabinet fixed an order of priority, with critical civilian production following immediately after New Zealand forces' requirements. However, the Factory Controller was still unable to get sufficient electric power and, on 26 June 1945, he asserted that ‘power is not available for some very important and critical civilian production which War Cabinet has directed should be regarded as second priority.’

As a result of the Factory Controller's representations, a rather more liberal policy was adopted towards the supply of electric power for those industries which were concerned with ‘critical civilian production’.

The centralised control over supply of power to factories ceased in November 1945, when the local supply authorities were authorised to issue permits for industrial installations at their own discretion.3

Restriction of power to domestic users was to continue in varying degrees until 1959 in the North Island and there would be restriction in the South Island from 1947 until 1957.

1 Amendment Order No. 1 of 22 November 1943 to the Electricity Control Order 1943 forbade Supply Authorities in the North Island, subject to any special directions given by the Electricity Controller, to issue permits for new or extended electrical installations for a number of specified uses.

2 Factory Controller to Minister of Supply, 12 April 1945. Copy on Industries and Commerce file 54/11.

3 Amendment Order No. 1 of 7 November 1945 to the Electricity Control Order 1945.