Meridian exits Mokihinui Hydro Project
Tuesday 22 May 2012
Meridian Energy has announced that it will not proceed with the Mokihinui Hydro Project, a renewable energy development proposal for the West Coast of the South Island. The project has been formally withdrawn from the Environment Court process.
Meridian Chief Executive Mark Binns said the decision was difficult and followed a full review of the hydro scheme and the risks and uncertainties the project faced prior to becoming a reality.
"The project had a strong business case and would have been beneficial to the West Coast, but it was challenging as the project footprint encroached on Department of Conservation Stewardship land.
"Given the positive economics offered by the project and the benefits it would bring, Meridian progressed the project. However, our recent commercial review of the project determined it was not prudent to proceed further given the high costs and the risks of the process involved – which includes not only securing the resource consents but also land access under the Conservation Act. It was the difficulty associated with seeing a path through the land issue that was of most concern,” said Mr Binns.
The Mokihinui Hydro Project received resource consent in April 2010, following extensive stakeholder engagement and public consultation. The decision was appealed to the Environment Court by the Department of Conservation, Forest & Bird, Whitewater NZ, and West Coast Environmental Network Trust. Meridian would also have been required to work through a separate Conservation Act process because the project would have had an effect on public conservation land.
“While the decision to withdraw from the Mokihinui Hydro Project is the right commercial decision for Meridian it is no doubt a very disappointing outcome for all those who supported the project, particularly on the West Coast," said Mr Binns.
Meridian has a strong track record as a developer of renewable generation, with operational assets totalling 2,883MW (total generation capacity), priority projects for development that have all of the necessary consents and approvals, such as its Wellington wind farm Mill Creek, and a robust future development pipeline.
“Looking forward, it will be important for industry and stakeholders to work together constructively on how to rule projects in as New Zealand’s energy needs continue to grow over coming decades,” said Mr Binns.
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