Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Build the other dam

The loonies are now trying to exploit the fading electricity transmission crisis to ram through the Dobson hydro scheme, saying that it will provide electricity from the "perpetually renewable and entirely free energy source provided by the high rainfall on the West Coast".

This is true. However, it's in the middle of a conservation area, and that fairly much rules it out. The whole point of a conservation area is to conserve, not to dig it up whenever it is convenient.

But more importantly, the advocates of development are trying to build the wrong dam. Dobson would flow into the West Coast's local grid - but its not the West Coast which seriously needs local generation; it's Nelson/Marlborough. And there's a planned hydro scheme which will provide that local generation, just about to start the RMA process.

Trustpower's Wairau Valley scheme is a dog technologically. It's a "mini-Aqua", a canal-diversion with multiple small power plants and next to no storage capacity, so its really missing the whole point of hydro. However, unlike Dobson, it's not in the middle of the conservation estate, and unlike Aqua, it's actually popular with the locals. Both of which mean that there are likely to be far fewer problems with actually building the thing.

So, why are National, Greypower, industry and United Future advocating so strongly for environmentally destructive development which doesn't actually serve our needs when there's a popular option which does which can be built with far less hassle just sitting there? Beats me.