North Island power outage: Grey Power calls for overhaul of electricity industry, says it's 'very lucky' no elderly died

An elderly advocacy group is condemning those responsible for the North Island power outage earlier this week, saying it's lucky no one died and calling for a "complete overhaul" of the electricity industry.

Tens of thousands of properties across the North Island were thrown into darkness on Monday night after Transpower, responsible for the country's electricity transmission, warned there was insufficient generation to match record-high demand on one of the coldest nights of the year.

Energy Minister Megan Woods on Tuesday met with Transpower and the Electricity Regulatory Authority on Tuesday morning, and wrote to generators demanding answers and assurances it wouldn't happen again.

She also revealed Genesis had made a "commercial decision" not to operate its third Rankine boiler at Huntly, while also noting Transpower had miscalculated the amount of demand it needed to reduce, meaning more people had the lights turned off than necessary. 

The Grey Power Federation, which represents senior citizens, is now making an urgent submission to the Government to treat the supply of reliable electricity with the same degree of importance as freshwater and clean air.

President Jan Pentecost says if it's true the blackout was caused by a decision to hold back on starting up additional generation, "apologies and even rolling heads will not be enough".

She says it's clear the system of managing and reticulating electricity is "broken beyond repair", and has called for a complete overhaul of the industry as a matter of urgency.

"Many people, particularly the elderly, are now totally reliant on an uninterrupted supply, not just to keep warm on cold nights but to stay alive."

Pentecost says electricity providers and generators need to see power as an essential service for the maintenance of life, rather than just "a commodity from which to make profits".

"Some people with serious medical conditions are totally reliant on electricity for life-supporting appliances and we are very lucky the outages did not result in fatalities."