The Green Party has today written to Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges, asking him to commission an independent study into the best options for replacing coal-burning electricity generation at Huntly with cleaner alternatives.
The call follows electricity industry backlash against the decision by Huntly power plant owner Genesis to stop burning coal in 2018, and pressure from the industry for New Zealand to keep burning coal to generate electricity.
“With the pressure coming on Genesis to keep burning coal, the Government needs to show leadership to ensure our last 1980s dirty power station stops burning coal for good,” Green Party energy and resources spokesperson Gareth Hughes said.
“The development of new energy targets announced today by the Minister won’t stop Huntly spewing black coal smoke into the air just south of our biggest city.
“The National Government shouldn’t sit on its hands and let its low carbon price continue to see coal burnt for power into the foreseeable future. Without a proper carbon price, there’s no incentive to reduce pollution at all.
“Minister Bridges shouldn’t pass up this opportunity to end a major source of greenhouse gas pollution and develop new jobs in cleaner alternatives.
“Burning coal isn’t the only way to keep the lights on. I’m asking the Government to investigate the economic and environmental effects of cleaner options, including replacing coal with wood, wind, and new storage technologies.
“The UK’s largest coal-fired power plant, Drax, has been burning wood waste since 2013. We could use our existing wood wastes and develop a more mature bioenergy market, which would also help Fonterra replace its substantial coal use.
“Coal plants are closing all around the world as countries get serious about their climate change obligations following the Paris conference. The New Zealand Government needs to get us off the coal train too,” said Mr Hughes.