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Energy planning needed in wake of Aqua demise

March 29, 2004 - Wellington

MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Energy planning needed in wake of Aqua demise

New Zealand needs a dose of energy planning realism following the welcome collapse of Project Aqua. The country could want more electricity than was possible to generate unless sensible energy planning found ways to curb New Zealand's profligate energy use.

"Even with the prospect of a streamlined Resource Management Act process under the Waitaki legislation, Meridian pulled the plug on the project because it wasn't economic - so don't blame the RMA. New Zealand's compliance costs under the RMA are low by OECD standards," Forest and Bird's Senior Researcher Barry Weeber said.

"In 2002 electricity use rose four percent. If this increase in electricity demand continues it would lead to a doubling in electricity use every 18 years," he said.

"This would mean New Zealand would have to build over 10 Project Aquas - one every two years - or six Huntly power stations burning over 10 million tonnes of coal annually.

This is clearly unsustainable. There isn't the water to supply this demand and coal or gas would further raise New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions before running out completely," he said.

"Yet in the winter of 2003, the country was able to save 10% of its power generation. While this was only short term, New Zealand can bed in changes permanently. We need to think smarter about using electricity more efficiently and needing less," he said.

"New Zealanders' insatiable demand for electricity is driving environmentally damaging projects like Project Aqua and the proposed Cypress and Pike coal mines. Until we plan for and limit our demand for electricity, projects like these will continue to surface and threaten local communities and the environment," he said.

"The people who live in the lower Waitaki Valley will be breathing a sigh of relief tonight, but the only way they can be sure to keep their river and community intact is if we reduce our demand for electricity," he said.

ENDS

For more information see:

http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/magazines/03Aug/Energy%20Crises%20threats.asp


Contact: Barry Weeber, Senior Researcher, 04 385 7374 (w), 021 62 7329 (cell)


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