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Environment Court cans Meridian's Project Hayes

Environment Court cans Meridian's Project Hayes

by Pattrick Smellie

Nov 6 (BusinessWire) - Meridian Energy has suffered another knockback with the loss of its resource consent application for Project Hayes, a massive 630 Megawatt wind farm in the South Island's Maniototo region.

The decision caps a horror year for Meridian, in which it has lost its way internally after the departure of the previous CEO, Keith Turner, failed to perform commercially, and has been forced to put a major customer service initiative on hold.

The Environment Court decision is an echo of Meridian's failure earlier this decade to gain consent for Project Aqua, a 524MW hydro scheme that would have further modified the Waitaki River, on which Meridian already operates the country's largest system of hydro dams.

Meridian still has South Canterbury generation options on the go, with proposals advancing for a 230MW hydro tailrace scheme which would also use Waitaki River water, and assist agricultural irrigation in the water-parched region.

Meridian spokesman Alan Seay said the company was "disappointed" at the Environment Court decision and was now studying the 350 page decision carefully and considering "next steps", which include appeal.

Meridian has also been forced this to address bloated head office costs and undergo a restructuring, is under pressure to raise profits while not raising electricity prices, and has recently canned a new customer service system on which it had already spent $20 million.

(BusinessWire) 18:00:52

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