Contact Energy, New Zealand's second dirtiest electricity company, looks set to go green. According to a story on Stuff, they are planning to invest $2 billion in renewable electricity projects over the next five years, primarily in geothermal and wind power. While further gas generation (currently the core of Contact's portfolio) remains an option, it is very much relegated to a back seat, being seen primarily as a way of replacing older stations and providing dry-year backup. So, the National Energy Strategy seems to be working, despite not having been finalised or any legislation passed.
The down side is that Contact is pushing for changes to the RMA to get its projects through. It's easy to see why they want this - the local democracy aspect of the RMA is so troublesome for arrogant corporations, who would rather just lobby the Minister like they did under Muldoon - but I'm not sure that its really necessary. Despite challenges in the Environment Court, the RMA hasn't really been a barrier to wind generation (mainly because the arguments against it tend to be spurious at best - though Project Hayes may see some limits drawn around outstanding landscapes). With geothermal, there are tricky issues about impacts on others, and about the rights of local iwi to be taken into account, but OTOH we are still seeing geothermal projects going ahead as well. The participatory aspect of the RMA - giving local communities a strong say in their development - is one of the most valuable aspects of the law, and I would not like to see it eroded, even for renewables. The existing process seems to produce the right result in the end, and it would be better to let it just work its way out rather than eroding valuable protections so that foreign shareholders can receive greater dividends.