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 The project has been formally withdrawn from the Environment Court process.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.
For more information contact:Claire Shaw
External Communications Manager
021 370 677
About Meridian Energy
Meridian Energy is an integrated renewable energy company; the largest generator in New Zealand, with a strong pipeline of development options in Australasia; and an electricity retailer throughout New Zealand.
Meridian and its online subsidiary Powershop retail electricity to approximately 280,000 connections − homes, farms and businesses throughout New Zealand. Meridian received the highest customer satisfaction ratings of all the major national retailers, and Powershop was rated first overall, as voted by customers in two independent surveys1 carried out in 2011.
The Meridian Energy Group includes a parent company Meridian Energy, subsidiary businesses in Australia and the USA and other innovative New Zealand investments that complement our core activities as an electricity generator and retailer. In total the Group employs approximately 800 people and has offices in Wellington, Christchurch and Twizel, and, internationally, in Melbourne, Australia, and San Francisco, California.
Meridian generates electricity from renewable sources − wind and water in New Zealand; wind in Australia; and solar in the USA. The company supplies thirty per cent of New Zealand’s total electricity needs, including to the country’s largest consumer, the New Zealand Aluminum Smelter, near Bluff. Meridian owns and operates seven hydro stations, six within the Waitaki Hydro Scheme, and four wind farms throughout New Zealand.
In Australia, Meridian owns and operates Mt Millar wind farm and is partnering with AGL Energy to build the Macarthur wind farm, which, at 420 megawatts, will be the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere. The company also built the world’s southernmost wind farm at Ross Island in Antarctica, in partnership with Antarctica New Zealand. Meridian’s solar farm, CalRENEW-1, was the first grid-connected solar farm to be built in California, and the company is using that expertise to build the first solar farm in Tonga.
Meridian’s pipeline of renewable development projects includes options at different stages of investigation and consent. The Australasian development pipeline equates to more than 1,500 megawatts.
Meridian’s commitment to renewable energy, environmental stewardship and support for the communities living alongside its assets makes it authentically sustainable. Meridian continually looks for ways to provide positive energy solutions to customers to help them reduce their energy use.
The Meridian Energy Group is one of the state-owned enterprises included in the Government’s proposed Mixed Ownership Programme.
1. Independent surveys
Consumer. Energy provider survey results, 28 July 2011. Available at
Fair Go/Colmar Brunton Best in service poll – power companies, 19 October 2011.
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