That's the cost of the CO2 emissions from their proposed 150 MW coal-fired power plant at Birchfield on the West Coast. The plant would burn 500,000 tonnes of Stockton bituminous coal a year. By my calculations, that would add 1.33 million tonnes of CO2 to our annual emissions, increasing annual CO2 emissions by 4% and total gross emissions by 2%. When we're trying to cut emissions by around 10% annually, that is not something we need.
Those emissions will have to be covered by the purchase of carbon credits on the international market. Without a carbon tax, the cost of those credits will be borne by the New Zealand government. Even at the ludicrously low Treasury estimate of NZ$9/t, that works out to $12 million a year. If OTOH we use a more credible price of NZ$30/t, based on the current price on the European market of 15 - 16 Euro per ton, we are looking at NZ$40 million. That's a lot of money we could be spending on other things.
Currently, we have no climate change policy. We have no carbon tax or price on carbon to ensure that companies pay the full cost of their activities, while regional councils are forbidden from considering greenhouse gas emissions under the RMA. There's every chance then that this proposal will slip through the policy gap, lumping us with increased emissions and an ongoing carbon liability we will be paying for for years to come. We should not let this happen. Jeanette Fitzsimons's Resource Management (Climate Protection) Amendment Bill, which would put greenhouse gas emissions back into the RMA, is due to be reported back from committee next month. I think Solid Energy's proposal shows that there is a clear need to pass it.