Auckland, March 24 – Mercury Energy says the Government’s decision on the proposed Stratford power station has strengthened its plan to build a gas generation plant in South Auckland.
The company is now more concerned with retailing electricity to Auckland consumers but it wants to build a power station at Southdown to reduce its dependence on Electricity Corporation and to meet what it sees as a looming generation shortfall at present rates of use.
Mercury generation manager Ray Gatland said the ramifications of the Stratford decision had yet to be fully assessed but it appeared to recognise that efficient new power plants could expect concessions.
It could not be assumed that the Mercury proposal would be "called in" by the minister for extra scrutiny by a board of inquiry so in the meantime normal consent procedures were being followed.
Environment Minister Simon Upton yesterday gave the conditional go ahead for the Stratford power station in a decision which could lead to a system of tradable permits for greenhouse gas emissions.
The 400-megawatt gas-powered station at Stratford may be built on the condition that a carbon sink be created by planting forests or the effect of emissions is reduced by greater efficiency elsewhere.
Next month Mercury faces resource consent hearings for the 114 megawatt station it hopes to build in partnership with TransAlta, a Canadian electricity generator.
The station will produce about 410,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year but is touted as being the most efficient of any thermal electricity generating plant in the country.
It is estimated that 1.5 million tonnes will be discharged annually at Stratford.
Mercury said the Southdown project would lead to a net reduction in the level of carbon dioxide emissions "relative to the situation without the new station."
The environmental impact report prepared for the company stated that less of the gas was produced each hour than in the existing lower efficiency stations whose generation it would effectively displace.
NZPA NZH ams cf 24/03/95 19-23NZ