Published 26 January 2010
Manukau mayor Len Brown picked up the “Get a new power supply” cry today in the wake of power outages arising from conflict between TransPower & a Waikato farmer, and a fire caused by transmission lines over trees on the farm yesterday.
Would a combined-cycle gas-turbine power station up around Helensville do? Rodney District Council’s plan change enabling Genesis Energy Ltd’s 480Mw combined-cycle station between Helensville & Kaukapakapa became operative on Friday 22 January. The station is to be built in 2 stages and would, as I understand it, provide the energy for at least 300,000 homes.
Or a tidal scheme feeding lower Northland, as backup? Crest Energy Ltd estimates the 200Mw (gross) tidal power scheme in the mouth of the Kaipara Harbour, for which it received interim consent in December, would generate power for up to 250,000 homes.
Mr Brown ignored those real projects as he said: “The new Auckland Council needs to investigate electricity generation options which will guarantee security of supply. Relying on lines transmitting energy from generators hundreds & hundreds of miles away will always leave Auckland vulnerable to transmission cuts & system failures as we saw yesterday. “Power supply to first-class cities should not be caught in the middle of an intemperate scrap between a single disgruntled farmer & a single power transmission company. "It’s important to note that major investment is currently going into the power lines & upgrade of the Otahuhu substation. However, we need to examine ways of generating energy close to source & north of Auckland. Rather than playing the old blame game, we should be focused on how to future-proof our city. “The new council will have the critical mass to investigate options with power utilities to begin to provide generation to Auckland which is sustainable & secure. It needs to support proposals for sustainable generation close to Auckland – such as the proposals we are seeing for wind & tidal generation on sites on the west coast. "The Super City can work with power generation companies to share information, give advice on environmental impacts and represent local communities when it comes to new development. The new structure provides us with the chance to try new approaches to growth. "The council will also be able to examine & standardise the region’s best consenting practices, which could allow easier & cheaper installation of solar panels & home wind generation. It can also work with residential & commercial developers to share knowledge on energy efficiency to lessen demand. “The council also has to do all it can to ensure all regulatory hurdles for upgrades to the existing big-ticket infrastructure run as smoothly as possible. “The council might even look at joint ventures with power companies, such as the Whitford landfill development that draws methane gas from waste to make energy. All possibilities should be canvassed. Otherwise we’re left with the status quo – insecure supply & major outages causing havoc to the region & its economy.”
Auckland had a 5-week power crisis in 1998 and a blackout in 2006. After the second of these, the Auckland Regional Council began work on a regional energy strategy, whose priority faded along with memories of the outage itself.
Mr Brown’s notion that the new Auckland Council should give advice to power suppliers on environmental impacts is an example of how the structure of the new council is likely to place the present regional council’s role as an environmental regulator well down the priority list.
And his notion that the new council should represent local communities when it comes to new development appears at odds with the likely role of the new local boards, and also at odds with likely opponents of any proposed development.
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Attribution: Mayoral release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.