This is quite amusing:
So what do they say beyond the headlines. The Herald:
Broad long-term agreement on energy matters is a decided plus for a country that has become uncomfortably accustomed to the threat of power shortages. The National Party’s support yesterday of the Government’s 2007 energy strategy, notably the target of 90 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2025, and an emissions trading scheme is, therefore, welcome. This is not an instance where the National Party should be criticised for saying ‘me, too’. Security of supply is too important for that.
National has correctly identified that the major obstacle to such security is the lack of clear and consistent rules to encourage power companies to invest in new water, wind, geothermal, tidal and other renewable generation. Its major remedy is an urgent reworking of the Resource Management Act. It would introduce priority consenting for large power projects, as well as streamlining the working of the act and putting an end to frivolous objections. Priority consenting would mean consents would be “called in” and determined centrally, and a decision would be made within nine months. Other details have not been announced, and National must ensure the balance does not swing too far against community interests.
If we do not want more coal or thermal stations, we need to make it easier to get wind farms and hydro plants. Just vainly hoping our energy demand grows half as quickly as it has historically is not much of a strategy.
For Labour, the focus is on renewable energy, and particularly on a new concept, “reversibility”. For National, with the memory fresh in everyone’s mind of the third winter in recent years in which energy security has skirted close to a crisis, the focus is meeting present needs and preparing for those of the future.
The reality is that Labour’s focus on renewable energy has been rhetoric. 75% of new capacity under Labour has been thermal.
The difficulty with renewable sources of energy, however, is that no matter how much people may profess to admire the concept, they run into the same problems as other energy projects no-one seems to want one anywhere near them. Wind turbine projects, large and small, up and down the country have met ferocious resistance. And the revival by Contact Energy of proposals for more hydro dams on the Clutha River, while welcomed by some, has also prompted a threat of determined opposition by others.
And David Parker has ruled any future Clutha dams out.
National is selling its energy policy as an integral part of its plan to try to lift the country’s productivity growth. Productivity growth, which is crucial to economic prosperity, has sagged badly under the present Government and National believes, probably correctly, that secure and efficient electricity supply is essential to help try to revive it. Whether it can achieve this while paying more than lip-service to environmental commitments remains to be seen.
One has to have sufficient secure electricity. The environmental issues around certain forms of energy will partly be met by a workable Emissions Trading Scheme which sets a price for carbon.