Crown to fast track energy projects

Just as energy executives berate the New Zealand government for its lack of coherent energy policy, rumours are circulating of "Think Big Part II" - i.e. the Crown is considering fast-tracking power projects again by special legislation.
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Wellington's Dominion Post today reports that the Capital's legal community is talking about special legislation arising from the ashes of the National Development Act, which was used by the Robert Muldoon administration to speed up development of Taranaki's Think Big energy projects - the synthetic petrol, methanol and ammonia urea plants in the early 1980s.

The NDA was also used to remove obstacles and objections for such projects as the South Island's Clyde Dam, which is now owned by listed company Contact Energy.

The Dominion Post says there is speculation Environment Minister Marian Hobbs will use "call-in" powers under the Resource Management Act to fast-track government power company Meridian Energy's proposed $NZ1.2 billion Project Aqua hydro scheme in the South Island.

Call-in powers are available for proposals of "national significance", taking resource consent decisions from local authorities and giving them to central government. They have been used once so far, by the National administration of the mid-1990s to speed up development of the Taranaki Combined Cycle (TCC) gas-fired power station.

Now there is speculation the government plans to these "call-in" provisions for the needed $NZ1 billion investment in the national grid over the next decade, as well as further thermal electricity projects. It is understood Genesis Power is seeking government underwriting for its e3P project, a second proposed gas-fired power station at Huntly.

Last week EnergyReview.Net reported that several energy executives, at a special energy forum in New Plymouth, called for the government to urgently implement coherent energy policies and hopefully avoid serious supply-side shortages. They said that if the energy sector was not sorted out, then neither would the New Zealand economy.

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