The Clutha’s still there

16/07/2012

We drove down the east side of Lake Dunstan before crossing over it at Cromwell on Wednesday evening.

The lake was formed – more than a little controversially – when the Clyde Dam was built.

It interrupts the flow of the Clutha River but the river is still there, feeding and in turn being fed by Lake Dunstan.

We crossed the Clutha again north of Luggate on our way home yesterday. The water looked just as it always has, even though it’s dammed at Hawea a few kilometres above the bridge.

I have no doubt it looks the same below the  Clyde Dam too even though both dams are owned by Contact Energy which, is a publicly listed power company.

In case that’s not clear, that means the state doesn’t own the dams and hasn’t for sometime.

Private ownership of the power companies operating on the Clutha River hasn’t affected the water and whoever may or may not own it. Why would the partial float of other energy companies have any affect on the water they use?


No more Clutha dams

02/05/2012

The grapevine has been saying for several months that Contact Energy no longer wanted land along the Clutha River.

The logical conclusion from that was that the company was giving up its plans to build more dams on the river and that has been confirmed:

The energy company has spent the past three years investigating the options at four sites, Luggate, Beaumont, Queensberry and Tuapeka Mouth.

It says the costs were much higher than the expected $300 million to $1.5 billion per dam, meaning none of the options are viable in the foreseeable future. . .

Other factors contributing to the decision include the unease within communities living along the Clutha and the cost of transmission, including future upgrades of the Cook Strait cable.

The company has bought land along the river. This decision could mean there will be several farms for sale.


Commercial exploitation or vagaries of nature?

03/01/2011

A few weeks ago spot prices for electricity were very high.

The justification was that the hydro lakes were low.

Now the dams on the Clutha and Waitaki Rivers are spilling water because the lakes are too full and councils are warning of flood danger.

Were the high prices commercial exploitation or is this just the impact the vagaries of nature have when we generate so much hydro power?


Now we’ve got hail

04/10/2009

The snow I posted on yesterday didn’t last long. By lunchtime the sun was making appearances between clouds and if you could escape the icy wind it was almost warm.

We biked out to Albert Town, up the track beside the Clutha River and back along the  Wanaka lakeside without risking exposure.

It was 5 degrees when we started up Mount Iron this morning, which isn’t too bad if you’re wearing merino and trying to walk fast* up hill. However, the temperature has dropped since then and now it’s hailing.

I hope the lambs which are getting a cold introduction to the world have good shelter.

*fast is a relative term, some days the hill is steeper and today was one of them.


Contact’s eyeing the Clutha

09/08/2008

Contact Energy is investigating more dams on the Clutha River.

Contact Energy’s Wellington-based communications manager Jonathan Hill said the power company was “taking a close look again” at old proposals which had been on the back burner, such as those involving sites at Beaumont, Luggate and Queensberry.

… Mr Hill said Contact did not have any firm plans in place and was simply looking at all of its options.

“However, we have a clear preference that any new hydro developments should be on rivers that already have hydro schemes on them, to avoid altering virgin rivers.”

Beaumont, Luggate and Queensberry on the Clutha River had all been proposed as possible sites.

Mr Hill said they were the only river schemes that Contact was actively looking at as the plans had already been drawn up by the previous owner, ECNZ.

“I think its a very important point to make that if we do identify a project that we would like to advance, the first steps will be to discuss it with local communities.

“The role of new, large-scale hydro projects will be particularly important in an environment in which there is growing concern around climate change and sustainability and in which traditional thermal fuels such as gas are becoming increasingly expensive,” he added.

The increase in thermal generation has been a major contributor to the increase in our carbon emissions. But the difficulty of getting through the Resource Management Act makes the development of new wind and hydro generation a long, involved and expensive process.

The Environment Court appeal against Meridian Energy’s  application consent for its Project Hayes windfarm in the Lammermoor Range has been adjourned until January.

Its Project Aqua on the south of the Waitaki River never got to the consent stage but the company is now looking at a scheme on the north bank.

This winter’s power crisis was avoided by conservation measures and timely rainfalls, but at great cost to businesses and the economy.

Conservation measures can only do so much, if we want to be a first world country with a first world economy so we can afford first world social and environmental initiatives, we need first world power supplies and that means more generation.

If the past is any guide there will be fierce oppostion to more dams on the Clutha. But if we have to reduce carbon emissions and nuclear generation is neither popular nor practical then we have to accept more wind and/or hydro schemes.


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