Activists slam Meridian over coal deal

Huntly Power Station (Getty)
Huntly Power Station (Getty)

Anti-coal activists are aghast there will be four more years of coal-fired electricity production at Genesis Energy's power station in Huntly.

Other generators, led by Meridian Energy, want it available as a back-up in case predicted shortfalls in generation come to fruition.

Cindy Baxter of the Coal Action Network says it's ironic the deal, which will keep coal burning at Huntly until 2022, was pushed by "saving-the-world-from-your-sofa company Meridian".

"They're going to continue with their nice clean-and-green brand," she told Paul Henry this morning. "It sticks in my throat a little bit."

Meridian promotes itself as the "leading developer of renewable electricity", and has a "100 percent commitment to building only renewable energy generation".

Last year it said it would consider building a new wind farm to take up the slack if Genesis stopped burning gas and coal at Huntly.

Locals welcomed the coal deal, as it keeps the small Waikato town's economy ticking along.

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges says coal will be burned infrequently, and only when it's needed. He agrees with the Coal Action Network that eventually coal does need to be phased out.

Aside from this, Ms Baxter says the Government has no plan to reduce emissions in the long run.

"[Since the Paris Agreement on climate change] we've got applications for two new coal mines, we've got the extension of Huntly coal-fired power station and we've got Fonterra wanting to build two huge new coal-fired boilers. We're not going in the right direction here," she says.

"We need to start cutting emissions -- that's the plan."