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RMA: No way forward is not a solution

Canterbury Manufacturers’ Association
Media Release
4th December 2006.

No way forward is not a solution

The Canterbury Manufacturers Association says that the Resource Management Act is a major impediment to vital energy developments such as the Mighty River geothermal plant, the Project Hayes wind farm and future hydro facilities being built to generate electricity at their full potential.

“Those companies behind the projects at Mighty River and Lammermoor Range are finally talking about large scale projects, but care needs to be applied to how they are assessed. Wind energy is only available when the wind blows and simply quoting the installed capacity can be misleading, output capacity is the key issue”, says Chief Executive John Walley. “However we need these projects to protect the security of supply and look for consumer benefits”.

The CMA says that New Zealand’s demand for electricity is growing at around 2.34% annually and to cater for this growth, there needs to be an average of 270MW of solid and reliable additional generation plant commissioned each year. The Association’s own research shows that electricity output lifted to between 130 – 150MW during the past six years and Mr. Walley says that the amount of generation scheduled to be produced in the meantime will not cover our growing electricity needs.

The major hurdle to future developments is the RMA in its current form and the issue with ventures such as Project Hayes, is which takes precedence - power or some purist view of the landscape and local environment says Mr. Walley. “No one is suggesting the environment should be disregarded or should be unnecessarily damaged but does one small part of the “natural” landscape need protecting to the point where it overrides the national demand for electricity? If this is going to be the case, then where will New Zealand’s future power stations be located and how many more blackouts will it take to drive a more pragmatic approach?”

“Remember, it takes a long time to build large generation and high capacity transmission, so pragmatism has to be driven by foresight not hindsight.”

Mr. Walley says that the process of gaining resource consent under the RMA has to become more cost effective, less time consuming and see greater weight given to national interest. The uncertainty which currently surrounds the reliability and pricing of electricity is deterring companies, especially manufacturing and industrial firms, from local investment and this uncertainty needs to be reduced in order to help New Zealand move back up the OECD rankings.

“New Zealand requires that energy companies develop generation capacity for the future; the alternative is a dwindling reserve margin that will be rationed on price. But if future investment, whether it is in hydro, geothermal or wind plants is to be forthcoming then trade offs will have to be made one way or another. Caution is one thing but ‘no way forward’ all has to be unacceptable.”

ENDS

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