Meridian Energy backs out of 100-MW Mokihinui hydropower project

WELLINGTON, New Zealand 5/23/12 (PennWell) -- Meridian Energy has announced that it will not proceed with its 100-MW Mokihinui hydroelectric plant by withdrawing the project from the Environment Court process.

The New Zealand-based company intended the US$300 million facility to be built on the Mokihinui River north of Westport, but pulled the plug on development after spending more than $18 million on development, planning and legal work.

The controversial project won resource consents in April 2010 but faced appeals from numerous environmental groups and New Zealand's Department of Conservation.

Meridian Energy would have also been required to meet separate Conservation Act processes because the project would have had an effect on public conservation land.

"Given the positive economics offered by the project and the benefits it would bring, Meridian progressed the project," says Meridian Energy chief executive Mark Binns. "However, our recent commercial review of the project determined it was not prudent to proceed further given the high costs and the risks of the process involved."

While Mokihinui is stalled, Meridian Energy continues to work on other developments. For example, HydroWorld.com reported that Meridian Energy was issued resource consents for its 35-MW Pukaki hydroelectric plant in June 2011.

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