Huntly coal generator gets an extention

By Mānia Clarke

Huntly locals are welcoming a decision by Genesis Energy to keep its coal generators open. This means many Māori will be employed for an extra four years.

Coal generators at this power station will now remain open until 2022. They were supposed to close in 2018.

One of the Huntly locals told Te Kāea, “Yea, might get some jobs for the people. It would go well for the whānau's here because we've lost a lot of jobs over the years especially in the coal mines.  If that's gonna keep our people employed then, ka pai tērā.” 

But there's also concern from locals like this power station contractor. Last year, some saw first-hand the impact of Solid Energy's coal mine closure.

Current employee Tonga Thompson says, “The longer they can keep it open, the better for us eh, you know.  We've got to put our bread and butter on the table.  And there's no other work in Huntly, that's why a lot of our people have got no work.”

Genesis's decision follows agreements with other power companies to share the cost of keeping the plants open. This former coal miner and power station employee supports this.

Wiremu Tumai who also worked at the plant says, “The work is a lot easier now. Before it was really hard. The generators have improved now.”

Genesis Energy remains committed to removing coal and gas generation from its generation fleet in the future. 

However, recent changes to the market, the time needed to develop new power generation, continued uncertainty over the future of the smelter at Tiwai Point, and increased dry year risk, are reasons to keep using them.