Waitaki River power station approved

December 3rd, 2008 at 8:10 am by David Farrar

Good news that commissioners have given consent to for a 1100Gwh to 1400GWh power station on the Waitaki River.

If we want to transition away from non-renewable to renewables, then projects like these are essential.

Of course this is just the first step of the consent process. There are inevitable appeals to the Environment Court. Actual construction is still four years away from beginning!

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61 Responses to “Waitaki River power station approved”

  1. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,810 comments) says:

    Does Nick Smith know about this?

    What about the ducks and their “duck rights” to swim in an unimpeded river. Surely it makes more environmental sense to blow taxpayer money building 5 billion windmills that we can all collectively tilt at.

    Why do I get the sneaking suspicion that Labour will be back in power before any dam of this size is built?

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  2. Johnboy (14,857 comments) says:

    “Of course this is just the first step of the consent process. There are inevitable appeals to the Environment Court.”

    Perhaps some urgency in sorting out the RMA first will save us three years of litigation?

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  3. anonymouse (693 comments) says:

    David: Your headline and post is incorrect,
    The consent that Meridian have received is only for the right to take water from the river, The consents for building of a power station is not within the powers of these commissioners.

    The actual construction consents to build the tunnels, dams etc, are totally separate and have not even been applied for yet.

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  4. David Farrar (1,853 comments) says:

    Oh dear, it really is just the beginning then.

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  5. PhilBest (5,117 comments) says:

    The Orwellian nature of our times is glaringly apparent to me, at least, when it is “good news” that a no-brainer project of this sort of national and international significance has just cleared a regulatory hurdle that puts it potentially “only” 4 years away from permission to proceed.

    DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH………………

    New Zealand? Let’s think of something appropriate to rename our country, perhaps with “Heath Robinson” or “Groucho Marx” or “Laurel and Hardy” in the title somewhere.

    The new government could not better define itself by getting this project underway within 6 months; nah, 6 weeks; just pass whatever legislation they need to to achieve this. The previous mob have provided the precedents for ramming special case legislation through for stuff that THEY regarded as of defining importance.

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  6. MT_Tinman (2,984 comments) says:

    Good news this is not.

    Yet another attack on South Island rivers already overburdened by irrigation for dairy farms operating on dry land.

    A more sensible solution would be a nuclear power plant somewhere around Hamilton.

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  7. mummified (9 comments) says:

    MT_Tinman

    How is this an attack on rivers, when a hydro power station only uses the energy contained in the water, with the water being returned to the Waitaki some way downstream?

    No water is lost from the river.

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  8. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    Curse those dairy farmers, how dare they contribute to our economy. Far better to let the water run to the sea unimpeded where the fish need it.

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  9. insider (1,000 comments) says:

    anonymouse is correct regarding re the approvals – it is just for water rights. They did this as they came a cropper in their plans for an earlier plant on the waitaki when they tried to get the two together. It didn’t work out. Meridian have yet to complete their planning to design and then decide whether to actually build the plant, presumably because those plans are reliant on the amount of water they could get, which was up to the tribunal to decide.

    Tinman

    Nuclear is a non starter – too big and too expensive. A Finnish reactor which is a bit of a poster boy for nuclear is running four years late and at least 50% over the initial budget of about $6 billion. You take that risk if you want. I don’t want to fund it.

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  10. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    There is more to the nation than the economy. And I wouldn’t mind so much if the use seemed a little more logical, a little less rapacious. I drive through Canterbury dairy farms 4 or 5 times a week and huge sprinklers operate very day, rain or shine. I doubt the need is as great as the greed, maybe if there was a fair price set for the water dairying uses there would be a better use. Oooo, is that too right wing hard capitalist for the socialist farmers?

    And mummified, as the water is being returned “some way downstream”, then there is an effect, maybe even an attack on the river, at least the part of it denied water.

    Tinamn is right – nuclear is the best option for the North Island, and generation capacity should be built as close as possible to the demand. Generating electricity in the SI for NI consumption (or the otherway around) is inefficient. oooo, hope I don’t scare you righties by demanding an efficency.

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  11. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    insider, why so defeatist? Where’s the kiwi no 8 wire initiative gone? What a sad and sorry bunch you’ve become.

    Perhaps the country needs another Rutherford to show the impossible isn’t.

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  12. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    I understand the proposed hydro power station is to supply the South Island market.

    And Canterbury is NOT running out of water.
    The water is running out of Canterbury.
    It’s just we are not allowed to build storage dams any more because it offends the Earth Mother and upsets the Mauri of the water.

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  13. Johnboy (14,857 comments) says:

    Since we seem to live in a prehistoric country surely a suitable human sacrifice could be found to placate Gaia, Cullen perhaps? and I am certain a compliant Tohunga could sort out the taniwhas if the koha was substantial enough.

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  14. MT_Tinman (2,984 comments) says:

    Mummified, water will be lost from the river, from a very significant portion of that river.

    I’ve followed this quite closely. A friend was a lawyer acting for Meridian, another one of Meridian’s engineers working on the proposal and I’ve gained some knowledge through them.

    Owen, as the Waitaki is a boundary between South Canterbury and North Otago you lost me completely.

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  15. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Oh dear, it really is just the beginning then.”

    Get Mr. Nick ‘RMA’ Smith on to it. He’ll fix it. Won’t he??

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  16. big bruv (13,200 comments) says:

    Build all the Nuke power stations in the South Island, hardly anybody lives there and should something go wrong it will be no great loss.

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  17. insider (1,000 comments) says:

    Jack

    If you think not wanting to bankrupt the country is ‘defeatist’ well then call me a collaborator. It obviously can be done, but why would you bother when you can get similar amounts of energy a lot more cheaply and without the risks?

    Owen

    You should know better than most that electrons don’t give a damn about resource consents and will go where they bloody well please. To say it is to supply the South Island market (and I’m not blaming you as they are probably some PR spin) is ignoring the huge oversupply in the SOuth Island at present. Frankly. the SI doesn’t need more energy as demonstrated by the massive transfer of energy north – it’s averaging about 400MW this week.

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  18. Ross Elliot (83 comments) says:

    Actually, it’s a waste for one drop of water to make it to the ocean.

    Use it all!

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  19. stu-tron (43 comments) says:

    Supply & demand levels of electricity vary month to month and year to year. This winter Contact Energy took a bath as they had a massive over supply of generation capacity in the North Island but a retail shortfall in the south. Primarily due to heavy rain in the north and stuff all in the south.

    The biggest problem the electricity sector currently faces is more to do with transmission than it is generation. Contact simply couldn’t transfer excess supply south due to our crap transfer links between the islands. Sort this out and you’ll have many more options on where best to build generation capacity without having to worry about building overcapacity in one of our islands.

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  20. insider (1,000 comments) says:

    but what will the fish drink?

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  21. Johnboy (14,857 comments) says:

    Whats more important is where will they pee?

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  22. insider (1,000 comments) says:

    Not true Stu

    The transmission system south rarely gets anywhere near capacity as it is rarely required to run southwards at any great level. The reality was, there was no excess power to send above what was being sent. Contact took a bath because they didn’t cover their risk. They now blame everyone else. Why should the country end up paying to overbuild infrastructure to cover their lack of planning for what was a very rare event? Do they want a motorway built to their front door to prevent congestion on anniversary weekend too? Have they never heard of hedging or conserving water for high demand periods?

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  23. unaha-closp (1,111 comments) says:

    A more sensible solution would be a nuclear power plant somewhere around Hamilton.

    Hamilton and places northward are already well catered for by local hydro, local geothermal and local thermal.

    Build all the Nuke power stations in the South Island, hardly anybody lives there and should something go wrong it will be no great loss.

    The South Island is already well catered for by local hydro.

    Really there is only one section of the country devoid of any useful capability. 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl…Palliser Bay

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  24. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Lets all take a deep breath, there is now a company in the Japan that has just patented mini nuclear reactors. These reactors are made by Toshiba are about 20×6 feet, self sustaining and can run for around 40 years without been refueled . These reactors produce power for about 5c per kilowatt hour

    There are already solutions on offer, we now live in the 21st century, man has the ability now to produce more power, cheaply, then he needs without destroying the environment. This is but one example of new technologies that are currently coming on line, hydro power, wind power, goal power will be obsolete in ten years time.

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  25. insider (1,000 comments) says:

    bob

    Sorry, you’re going to have to exhale – The Toshiba plant was a hoax http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/weblog/archive/2008/01/

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  26. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    “goal power”?

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  27. llew (1,533 comments) says:

    “goal power”?

    I think he meant “girl power”.

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  28. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Quite right llew, I meant girl power.

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  29. insider (1,000 comments) says:

    I thought you were talking about the visit of the one true goal power – our lord Becks

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  30. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Good one insider, perhaps I should have taken the IQ test but I still believe there are technologies out there that will render fossil fuel, wind, hydro obsolete, will try to find some links so you can check them out for me.

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  31. insider (1,000 comments) says:

    Bob

    I’m a firm believer that fossil fuels will still be our number one power source for many decades. The scale of redevelopment that would be required to even challenge the growth of the existing energy base would be near unprecedented let alone turn the tables on it. I can’t see infrastructure changing that rapidly to make a significant difference when you consider the scale of the fossil fuels industry and the ability to roll out new technologies on a mass basis. Training people to roll out a new technology that rapidly would be a massive job let alone building and retooling factories. It’s war footing stuff.

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  32. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    SSB, not so much IQ as just thinking whether it’s possibly too good to be true.

    insider, hopefully he WILL be obsolete in 10 years – I do not watch breakfast tv for live ‘Beckham is at the airport’, ‘Beckham is still at the airport’ updates!

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  33. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “I’m a firm believer that fossil fuels will still be our number one power source for many decades.”

    You crazy irresponsible bastard, we’re all gonna drown from rising sea levels, or from freezing weather, or from too hot weather, or lack of food and water, or species die out, or asphyxiate from unclean air, or over-population, or, or, or, or, all those things combined and you don’t care. Selfish Kapitalist bastard.

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  34. NX (602 comments) says:

    Another river dammed – how environmentally friendly.

    Let’s bite the bullet & build an ultra modern Nuclear plant.

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  35. Johnboy (14,857 comments) says:

    “You crazy irresponsible bastard, we’re all gonna drown from rising sea levels”.

    No sweat RB we will just build more dams to stop the water getting to the sea.
    If we generate more power than we can use to run our aircon and recharge our electric toothbrushes we can use it to pump the water back into the dam thus creating perpetual motion.
    I must give Al Gore a call he will just LOVE my idea!

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  36. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    The 10 big energy myths.

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  37. insider (1,000 comments) says:

    Owen says our land is actually rising in many areas due to geological activity.

    Cha

    I read that yesterday and many of the myths he is supposedly debunking seem to be through speculative or unproven technologies, which is just creating more myths. There appeared a lot of wishful thinking in it.

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  38. PhilBest (5,117 comments) says:

    “…..Really there is only one section of the country devoid of any useful capability. 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl…Palliser Bay….”

    Oh come on, 3 Mile Island was not a reason not to go nuclear, and as for Chernobyl, that is a good illustration of how a bunch of Commies can actually get something wrong that no-one else on the face of the planet has ever got anywhere NEAR that wrong. Using Chernobyl as the reason NZ should not go nuclear is tantamount to saying we are worse than the world’s hitherto most dangerous form of government.

    This is one of the most stupid, blinkered, Luddite, backward, anti-Science aspects of NZ populist politics.

    Note, again, that it is certainly not christian fundamentalists who are the greatest obstruction to “science” in the world today.

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  39. Johnboy (14,857 comments) says:

    Perhaps history will record Cullens financial management as “New Zealands Chernobyl”.

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  40. MrTips (143 comments) says:

    The Waitaki River already has 3 major dams preceding it. Further there are the Tekapo/Ohau canals online as well.
    Meridian (and their previous incarnations) have repeatedly tried to get access to further power stations but have failed due to poor planning, poor execution or poor logic. The Waitaki is already a MAJOR renewable source of electricity, so to claim a project like this is essential shows poor knowledge of the region in concern and its current contribution. Not that that stopped Keith Turner and his shares in construction companies.

    Furthermore, how do proponents of any further damming of any river in the South Island propose to get electricity across the Strait? Answer is, they can’t: the cable won’t handle it. So until another inter-Island cable is put down, or until they can prove population growth/usage in the South Island alone as justification then supporters of this dam are talking crap. Put a station in the NORTH Island where its needed – oh sorry, that your back yard isn’t it?

    By all means create more energy, we need it – but actually THINK about it properly.

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  41. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    Amazing how the so-called libertarians here don’t appear to even slightly respect the right of interest groups, who want to keep the river as it is now, to object to this project.

    But when it’s something closer to home, however small and petty, (like my right to have an incandescent lightbulb in my home if I want it) then it’s always “My Rights! My Rights! My Rights! F**k off nanny State! Fight the power!!”

    Libertarianz: More freedom to be a selfish little child – less government.

    [DPF: You own your home. You don't own your local river. Not hard to understand]

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  42. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    Insider, wishful thinking, certainly, but to me it’s the “pipes and wires” aspects of these huge projects that are the real issue.

    Furthermore, how do proponents of any further damming of any river in the South Island propose to get electricity across the Strait? Answer is, they can’t: the cable won’t handle it. So until another inter-Island cable is put down, or until they can prove population growth/usage in the South Island alone as justification then supporters of this dam are talking crap.

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  43. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Note, again, that it is certainly not christian fundamentalists who are the greatest obstruction to “science” in the world today.

    Cough-stemcellresearch-cough?

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  44. insider (1,000 comments) says:

    cha /MR Tips

    you need to read this if you are concerned about capacity http://transpower.co.nz/n1770.html

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  45. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Cha, when are you commies going to understand the fact that the public have woken up to your strategy of placing left wingers in the media and calling them journalists?? Look at this cheap partisan propagandist. Don’t bother with any more references to his bullshit.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/chrisgoodall

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  46. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Cough-stemcellresearch-cough?

    Though not *exclusively* the ‘fundamentalists’ – that would be silly.

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  47. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    Meridian want to make large scale use of the water in the river (which they don’t own, either) for money-making purposes.

    Isn’t the right of any other river user to object to this, equally as valid as Meridian’s right to apply for permission to take the water?

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  48. Johnboy (14,857 comments) says:

    True Ratty the executive of the lower Waitaki Gondoliers Union have held a meeting of the bruvvers and sisters and passed a resolution to oppose any development at all on the river that does not take into account the diktats of Karl Marx.

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  49. Brian Smaller (3,981 comments) says:

    We have a trillion tons of coal sitting in the South Island that we currently send to China so they can burn it in their power stations. Why not just burn it here.

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  50. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    You can’t help yourself can you Redbaiter, it’s all about you and your out dated politics.

    OT,my preference would be local generation using the nations abundant natural gas and an old but well proven technology.

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  51. Brian Smaller (3,981 comments) says:

    Tell you what Ratbiter. How about you stop using electricity so you don’t contribute to the demand that requires more generation. The benefits will be great for everyone.

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  52. PhilBest (5,117 comments) says:

    Stephen, Christian fundamentalists oppose a very small portion of scientific progress where there are serious ethical issues involved. But across the whole gamut of scientific progress from nuclear to hadron colliders to genetically modified plants to genome research to PVC to pesticides and fertilisers, no-one is a greater obstruction to human scientific progress and well being, than Gaia worshipping Green nut cases.

    “Why I Left Greenpeace” By Patrick Moore

    http://www.greenspirit.com/logbook.cfm?msid=198

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  53. PhilBest (5,117 comments) says:

    Oh, besides Green nut cases being the main obstruction to “science”, Political Correctness isn’t far behind on some issues. John Derbyshire recently ran a selection of comments from a recent thread on “Gene Expression” blog.

    “……..Palin is the most libertarian candidate to run since the Reagan administration … we’re fighting to hold territory, not to take it. We just need to hold off the left till genomics can come through. We’re going to be knocking off sacred cow after sacred cow in the next decade or so …”

    “…..The Democrats do not want the genetic discoveries to lead to widespread knowledge about the truth about human differences. The Democrats are really more anti-Darwinian than the fundamentalist Christians who deny the origin of species …”

    “……We need to step very carefully as we as going up against the official state religion, namely PC, and until we reach critical mass we’ll be convicted in the media and go straight to the gulag rather than be afforded the benefit of a [S]copes trial. [J]ust think of how many fedguv bureaucrats and NGOs owe their livelihoods to the axiom of equality … an Obama administration will passionately go after the heretics…..”

    “…..The Left’s restraints on science do not get publicized. Where’s the big research for IQ genes? Where’s the funding for that? Where’s the big research program for psychometrics? The Left strangled that very thoroughly…..”

    “The fact is that it is incredibly difficult even today to do this research. Genomics has been an area of “regulatory oversight” in that the Hapmap and related high throughput SNP

    They are now beginning to do so. I cannot disclose more but I am familiar with many of the principals and Harpending’s post is the tip of the iceberg. research started getting published so quickly that the bureaucrats haven’t had time to crack down on the area.”

    (John Derbyshire)”About 45 percent of the way down that thread are two gems. First, population geneticist Henry Harpending posts a creepy invitation he got from the National Human Genome Research Institute (yes, that’s a “.gov” you see there in their web address …), who are “planning a workshop to explore the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) raised by research on natural selection in humans.” The impetus for this meeting, they say, is “a growing need for more thoughtful deliberation by genomic researchers, ELSI researchers, science writers and science editors regarding the societal issues raised by natural selection research.” Get the picture?………”

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  54. PhilBest (5,117 comments) says:

    Yeah, get the picture, Stephen?

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  55. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Why on earth does that guy need scientific research if he already knows what’s what?

    Isn’t political correctness the reason used not to fund stem cell research too?

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  56. Johnboy (14,857 comments) says:

    This could be the answer to the problem just imagine a million pigs straining away and the products of their efforts producing
    at least 1000GWH as well all the pork chops the nation can consume.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4780206a3600.html

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  57. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    Brian Smaller – I am not saying I oppose the project. Please think, before you just pigeonhole people.

    I am saying it is your river and mine, it is not Meridian’s river, so the people wanting to prevent Meridian using the water should have an equal right to be heard as Meridian who want to use the water.

    The “national interest” is a completely separate issue from the environmental consents process.

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  58. Nigel (507 comments) says:

    I say stop pillaging South Island rivers for North Island power consumers, enough is enough.
    If the North Island needs more power how about some thermal generators at the roof of the beehive & parliament, there’s enough bullshit & hot air in that place to generate enough power for Wellington at least surely.

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  59. Johnboy (14,857 comments) says:

    Wrong Nigel we have had blackouts here since Nov 8th. All that power the beehive shredders were using sucked the grid dry.

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  60. MrTips (143 comments) says:

    Insider
    That upgrade to the HDVC is a retrospective one and barely brings the line into current capacity.
    The proposed tunnel scheme of Meridians will load another 1100-1400MW onto the grid.
    How are they going to get that across a cable that will ultimately carry that from current generation?
    Benmore alone churns out 540MW.

    If the Greens support this Meridian scheme, to any degree, then they will be shown up completely as the liars and hypocrites they are for the Waitaki river will die, as the low flow to 130cumecs will completely infest the river with Didymo from the Waitaki dam base to Black point. Sticking a windfarm on bloody Fitzsimmons own land would make more sense and be a very appropriate form of natural justice.

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  61. insider (1,000 comments) says:

    Mr Tips

    I have no interest in North Bank so don’t know the arguments but you are wrong in your assumptions on its output and the capacity of the grid.

    The old HVDC connection had a 1000MW capacity which was chopped last year when one of the lines was prematurely removed from service. That will increase to 1400MW in 2014. That’s a 40% increase in my maths.

    THe Meridian plan at present has a boiler plate capacity of 210MW but is predicted to produce up to 1400 GWh (which I think is what you are confusing it with), which means it will only run at capacity 2/3 to 3/4 of the time. South Island power demand growth is 2% a year – or about 250GWh. SO North bank is 4 to 5 years of demand growth based on current figures. Of course it is not planned to be built for nearly 10 years so by then it may be only one or two years growth.

    Ironically Jeanette did have a wind generator on her property. She took it down because it was too expensive to run…

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