The power failure on Monday night would have sent a chill down Jacinda Ardern's spine. Thousands of households in parts of the North Island had lost their heating on one of the coldest nights of the year. It was a cold, hard draught of reality for a government inclined to be idealistically green.
To adapt an old aphorism, everyone is an environmentalist until the lights go out. Then we discover a deeper and more immediate concern - a drop in our living standard.
The Prime Minister's staff went into overdrive on Tuesday morning as the nation contemplated what it must have been like to be in those households that lost electric heating for that freezing evening. A news conference was quickly arranged and a position adopted to point the blame away from the Government.
On one level it wasn't the Government's fault. The generating companies had been given notice by the grid operator, Transpower, that not enough power was being offered to meet the heavy demand that night. But Transpower had overstated the shortfall, which some distribution companies picked up but other didn't and cut too much.
So you could blame Transpower, or you could blame the generators, especially Genesis which owns the main reserve power source, the Huntly thermal station. Or you could blame the distributors who didn't check the figures. Or you could blame the "market" which a lot of people love to do.
The electricity market is unusual because the price is set every five minutes by the supplier of the last unit needed. It is much more efficient than a government-run system that would waste money on excessive capacity for political safety, financed by higher charges or tax. But the big generating companies are often accused of "gaming" the market by holding back power to drive the price up.
That was more or less the accusation Energy Minister Megan Woods levelled at Genesis on Tuesday, bringing a hot denial from the company and some back-pedalling by Environment Minister David Parker in Parliament the next day.
Parker also back-pedalled a bit on the Prime Minister's denial that the Government's squeeze on fossil fuels had anything to do with the outage on Monday night. He said it was fair to ask whether additional gas generation should have been brought on to manage spikes in demand. "There are proper questions to be asked as to whether the system does need Huntly for the next few years to sit there as a dry year reserve."
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You think? My first thought on hearing of Monday night's blackout was to hope some of those people still had gas heaters running, and gas stoves if they hadn't had dinner before it happened, and a gas-heated hot water supply.
The unlimited supply of hot water from the instant gas unit on our house is vastly better than the electric cylinder it replaced, which took a long time to heat when the hot water ran out. If this Government's ban on further oil and gas exploration eventually forces us to re-install an electric cylinder it will feel like a retrograde step in our quality of life. One of many by then.
The oil and gas ban in fact was not a million miles from the power failure on Monday night. The Green Party intended that drastic, unexpected decision to have a chilling effect on energy investors and it has. Generating companies have received the message that fossil fuels have no future in this country and they need to develop climate-friendly "renewables" such as solar energy and wind.
According to a Herald business commentator, Hamish Rutherford, Contact Energy is questioning whether to refurbish its Taranaki Combined Cycle Plant and Todd has yet to decide whether it will build a new gas-fired peaker plant that it has had consented for several years.
Genesis says it did not have all Huntly's coal and gas units running on Monday because it takes hours to fire them up and it thought it had enough hydro and wind generation to meet the night's demand. Windfarms, like solar panels, are not much use on a still, cold winter's night.
Climate science does not have much luck. The latest dire report from the IPPC was scheduled for release on the same day we awoke to news of the previous night's blackout in Hamilton and other places. The report duly came out on Tuesday. You might have heard people worrying about what it contained. I didn't. I heard plenty of concern about the power cut.
The problem for governments that make it their overriding mission to tackle climate change is that most people will not lower their living standards. They will not and nor should they. Human ingenuity can do better. If a government gives climate change greater importance they will change the government.