Within MainPower's region, the Hurunui District has the highest employment growth in the country and the third fastest gross domestic product growth. The neighbouring Waimakariri District has the fourth fastest rate of population and employment growth in the country.
Our ability to keep up with demand is under question. Dry years challenge our heavy reliance on hydro power. Gas supplies at Maui, New Zealand's largest gas field, are running out. New supplies will come at a higher price. Big hydro projects are becoming increasingly unacceptable because of the impact on communities and the natural environment. We are at risk of not having enough electricity to meet our future needs.
Energy efficiency must be part of the country's response. MainPower will continue to develop and promote programmes that support energy efficiency in the region's homes, making it easier for people to keep warm at an affordable price and helping our business customers to save on their power costs.
But, there is also real pressure to find new, renewable generation options to help meet growing demand. If we generate electricity locally then we have a more reliable supply. We can help protect our region against power shortages.
MainPower's vision is for the region to achieve energy self-sufficiency from a series of small to medium scale generation projects using renewable resources. A wind farm at Mt Cass will be MainPower's first step towards its vision of achieving energy self-sufficiency for the region.
In October 2007, the Government released the New Zealand Energy Strategy to 2050 that "responds to the challenges of providing enough energy to meet the needs of a growing economy, maintaining security of supply and reducing greenhouse gas emissions." As part of the strategy, the Government has set a target for 90 per cent of New Zealand's electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2025. MainPower's renewable energy and energy efficiency projects will contribute to the nation's efforts in battling climate change.
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