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Meridian Welcomes NZ Energy Strategy to 2050

MEDIA STATEMENT: Monday 11 December 2006

Meridian Welcomes NZ Energy Strategy to 2050

State owned power company, Meridian Energy says the just released NZ Energy Strategy sets a pathway towards an energy system for New Zealand that could be the envy of the world.

Meridian Energy Chief Executive, Keith Turner, says the strategy recognises the huge advantage New Zealand has in the renewable energy resources at its disposal for both electricity and transport.

"The NZ Energy Strategy has dealt with complex electricity, transport and climate change issues in a very succinct manner that sets both aspirational goals and a long-term direction for New Zealand, and it is well supported by data and analysis across the electricity and transport industries.

"For electricity, New Zealand has a wonderful hydro system that provides the best system in the world to support wind development and when augmented with base-load geothermal resources and other new hydro opportunities, we have renewable electricity on the horizon for the next 15-20 years."

Dr Turner is enthusiastic about the prospects for significant change in the transport sector, including the use of both biofuels and electric vehicles, combined with renewable electricity, as a basis for achieving international competitive advantage.

"The NZ Energy Strategy certainly puts out the challenge and sets future goals for technology evolution in a country that is already a quick up-taker in the new technology arena."

However he sounded a note of caution in regard to implementation of the strategy.

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"It is important that we have real buy-in to the strategy over a long period of time if we are to make real progress. There are a number of areas that need real policy changes to make progress, such as the development of a strong electricity transmission grid and the ability to increase the financial incentives for rapid technology uptake in the transport area."

Dr Turner identified challenges in the area of the Resource Management Act, regulation and the performance of the Electricity Commission to date around transmission as some of the "issues that we have to do better at".

"For example, Meridian's West Wind project has taken nearly two years to pass through its consent hearing and Environment Court appeal and the result is still not known. Faster process will be necessary to ensure confidence in security of supply. The same issues apply to transmission upgrading ­ critical if the strategy is to deliver for New Zealanders."

"Proof of the pudding is always in the fine detail and how the implementation is undertaken but there is a lot of scope for the industry to contribute to these ideas from this discussion document.

"In a world that is inevitably going to have to place a cost on carbon, our renewable energy resources offer us a competitive advantage few countries, if any, can match. If we can follow this strategy successfully, New Zealand can be an extraordinarily technology- smart country with a low climate change imprint and one other countries rely on for technology transfer. New Zealand has a great opportunity to take commercial advantage from the energy strategy if we pursue it vigorously."

ENDS

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