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New Zealand utility nixes hydropower development after three-year study

WELLINGTON, New Zealand 5/2/12 (PennWell) -- New Zealand power company Contact Energy has decided not to pursue any options for hydroelectric generation on the country's Clutha River at this time.

A Contact Energy release says the decision to stop development of the hydropower options was based on an assessment of the "relative economics of each option" and took into account "a wide range of technical, environmental, social and cultural factors."

Studies on the four proposals -- which included 350-MW Tuapeka Mouth, 185-MW Beaumont, 160-MW Queensbury and 86-MW Luggate -- were announced mid-2009.

Contact Energy chief executive Dennis Barnes says the company's three-year study has shown that none of the options are viable in the foreseeable future. "It has become clear that all future Clutha hydro options came in at a much higher cost per megawatt to build than the next available geothermal and wind generation options," Barnes says.

The company will now review its land holdings in the vicinity of the Clutha River, it says.

Contact Energy wasn't the only developer working on small hydropower projects on the Clutha River, however, as other private projects have also been in the works.


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