August 21, 2008

Company Urges Government to Use Coal and Lignite for Power


A SOUTHERN power company is calling on the Government to utilise the region's coal and lignite resources to help insure against future power blackouts.

However, both the Labour and National parties appear to have ruled out such a move in coming years.

The Power Company chief executive Martin Walton said the Government's plan to generate 90 percent of the country's power generation from renewable resources such as hydro and wind would be no good in dry years and windless days.

The dry summer this year had highlighted the problem of potential power blackouts when there was an increased reliance on renewable energy resources, he said.

He believed the Government should seriously consider thermal resources to back up hydro and wind generation.

"That means lignite or gas." There is an estimated 5 billion tonnes of lignite in Eastern Southland alone.

Mr Walton and fellow directors of The Power Company say in its 2008 annual report that the Government's policy of renewable generation could affect the future security of electricity supply.

The directors perceived the Electricity Commission and the market to be failing to provide adequate incentives for investment in future generation which would maintain security of supply in future years.

Though the Government's policy of renewable generation was "laudable in its intent" , it would not be conducive to continued economic growth without a clear indication to consumers how levels of security of supply would be maintained, the company report says.

A spokeswoman for Energy Minister David Parker said there were a large amount of renewable power projects in the pipeline, with some being geothermal which were not weather dependent.

The Government did not want to utilise lignite because of the carbon emissions associated with it, she said.

National Party energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee late last week released his party's energy policy, saying his party saw a future for gas generation.


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