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No electricity crisis: there are alternatives

David Parker
MP for Otago
Media Statement

30 March 2004

No electricity crisis: there are alternatives

Small Hydro Projects More Realistic: Irrigation More Affordable

Otago MP David Parker today reassured the community that New Zealand does not face an electricity crisis right now - there are alternatives.

“I am confident there will be no blackouts or brownouts. I’m confident this government has the planning in place for new power generation and for savings in usage,” he said.

Speaking during an urgent debate on Project Aqua in Parliament today Mr Parker said the economies of different water usages had changed since the days of the big hydro schemes.

“The cheapest hydro has now been done and what hydro capacity remains is much more expensive,” he said. “Alternatives like wind are now cheaper than they were a few years ago, so the gap has narrowed considerably.

Mr Parker also said that the economies of water for irrigation had changed, and irrigation was more viable than it ever was. This was due to the rising land productivity and the produce prices which have the effect of increasing land values.

“As land value goes up, previously unaffordable irrigation can become viable,” he said. “Irrigation technology has also improved with K-line technology irrigation in rolling hill country.”

Mr Parker paid tribute to members of his North Otago community who took part in public process surrounding Project Aqua and said it was not an easy thing to do to challenge such a big project.

“Many people in my electorate are very pleased today, some are disappointed, but they are satisfied that the government listened to what they had to say and did not over-ride their concerns.”

Mr Parker said Meridian’s hand had been forced by uncertainties, including cost uncertainties.

“To give Meridian its due, they played a straight bat and behaved honourably. I defend their decision and I applaud them for making it now. They could have taken another two years and spent a lot more money, and wasted a lot more time. The Clyde Dam is an example of where inadequate planning led to huge cost overruns and delays.

Meridian took the right course of action in taking the decision now which allows the country to plan for other sources of energy.

Meridian's decision to pull out was not the fault of the RMA - there are many examples where consents have been given for hydro and other energy projects.

ENDS

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