Solid's water fight

SOLID Energy will appeal to New Zealand’s Environment Court to block the development of a rival hydropower project, while the coal producer advances its own hydropower scheme.
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Solid Energy's Stockton mine

Blair Price

Solid’s scheme will integrate with its Stockton open cut mine and aims to produce 176 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity per annum using the two tributaries of the Ngakawau River.

The electric output will be enough to power 22,000 homes and allow the West Coast region to become a net exporter of electricity.

But private developer Hydro Developments recently won consent for its $200 million Stockton Plateau hydro project harnessing water from the same river.

As a consequence, Solid applied for resource consents for its scheme while it talked down the prospects for the rival development.

Hydro Developments is yet to secure project financing and Solid is also concerned the rival project could interfere with its mining operations.

“We believe that our scheme is a better fit with our coal mining plans and environmental commitments at Stockton,” Solid Energy chief operating officer Barry Brag said.

“At this stage we have no information that says Hydro Developments will be able to meet our expectations, or, if they do, whether they have a viable project that is the best for the Stockton plateau.

“That’s why we believe it is important to progress our scheme to provide the maximum likelihood for the Buller community and for the New Zealand electricity system that a good hydro project at Stockton will proceed.”

Hydro Development’s project is expected to generate 240 GWhr of electricity per annum.