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Meridian applauds level of Aqua interest

Media Release
For immediate release: Tuesday 27 January 2004

Meridian applauds level of Aqua interest

Meridian Energy is delighted at the level of public interest in its proposed Project Aqua hydro-electric scheme.

Since lodging its consent applications for the proposed scheme on 14 May 2003, Meridian Energy has distributed more than 10,000 Project Aqua reports, handled thousands of phone calls and met with thousands of individuals and groups to discuss the proposal.

Meridian Energy spokesperson Alan Seay says he is really pleased people are taking the time to find out what Project Aqua is all about.

“The future of New Zealand’s power supply is a critical issue that needs to be discussed. But in order to have the debate about where our future power supply will come from, people need to be informed. That’s why we are delighted so many New Zealanders want to learn about our Project Aqua plans,” says Alan Seay.

Project Aqua is a proposed canal-based hydro-electric scheme in the Waitaki Valley near Oamaru. It would generate enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of about 375,000 households in an average rainfall year and 250,000 households in a very dry year such as occurred in 1992 (a 1 in 20 year event).

Project Aqua must be commercially viable and environmentally sustainable to proceed. It must cost less than other forms of generation (between 4.5c and 5c per kilowatt-hour). A major potential benefit of Project Aqua is that it could enable irrigation in the Waitaki district.

Alan Seay says the most requested Project Aqua document is the Assessment of Effects on the Environment, closely followed by the Outline Plan Drawings.

The 0800 AQUA INFO line (0800 278-246) has fielded thousands of calls from people wanting information. Around 3000 people have also visited the new Project Aqua Office and Information Centre since it opened in Kurow last December.

"The people visiting the Information Centre are taking advantage of all the resources available there on Project Aqua – most notably, they are taking away copies of the Touring Guide which allows them to follow the alignment of the canal as they drive down the Waitaki Valley," says Alan Seay.

Over Summer, Alan Seay was part of a team from Meridian Energy which spent several weeks in the Waitaki Valley meeting with people and distributing information. The team gave out around 13,000 information packs.

“It’s been our aim to provide the New Zealand public with as much information as possible about our Project Aqua plans so that we can have a healthy and robust debate not just about the Aqua proposal, but about New Zealand’s electricity needs as a whole.”

For information on Project Aqua please call 0800 AQUA INFO (0800 278-246) or email aqua@meridianenergy.co.nz.

ENDS

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