When is a renewable electricity generator not a renewable electricity generator? Or what do you do when the electricity generator who are claiming to supply your home with 100% renewable electricity enters into a commercial contract that keeps a coal-thermal power station emitting carbon dioxide for an additional four years?
New Zealand has made some predictions of future reductions in emissions that we have confidently sent off to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Unfortunately Meridian's action has had the effect of sending the emissions savings up in a puff of coal smoke.
So I decided to divest from Meridian Energy and move my account to electricity supplier to Ecotricity who own only 100% renewable generation capacity and who are certified as carbon neutral. I used the Consumer Power Switch website. There is also the Whats my number web site.
I thought I should let Meridian Energy know I was voting with my account so I sent this open letter to Meridian Energy two weeks ago on 16 June 2016. I have not yet received a reply.
Mark Binns Chief Executive Meridian Energy Limited PO Box 2128 Christchurch 8140
16 June 2016
Re: Meridian Energy’s support for four more years of thermal coal electricity carbon dioxide emissions from Huntly Power Station
Dear Mr Binns,
I am a Meridian retail customer. My customer number is TrJ5I19vcteK2 My account number is 1.h@"]41Y6x#5-r.
I consider climate change to be a serious risk that we are all morally obliged to respond to. In 2012 I deliberately chose Meridian as my electricity retailer because of it's 100% renewable generation.
I am aware that to some extent the electricity I consume inevitably draws on some fossil-fueled capacity due to the networked nature of the grid. However, I was satisfied that choosing Meridian as my retailer was the best I could do in terms of reducing carbon dioxide emissions as I would not be contributing my money to any fossil-fueled thermal generation. In the past four years I have been very happy with that choice and with the service I have received from Meridian. Unfortunately, I did not know that Meridian had a contract with Genesis to keep the Huntly coal thermal power station operating to 2018.
On 28th April 2016, Meridian Energy announced that it had signed a new contract with Genesis Energy that would keep the Huntly coal thermal power station operating for an extra four years. This contract therefore postpones the expected closure from the planned 2018 date to 2022. I have read the statement on the Meridian website explaining the contract as a means of reducing the risk of low levels in the hydro lakes. The explanation fails to take climate change seriously.
The Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC sets out very simply the carbon budget consistent with limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius. The global warming we will experience will be linearly proportional to the cumulative volume of carbon dioxide emissions emitted by humanity. To prevent further dangerous levels of warming with a reasonable probability, cumulative emissions cannot exceed the carbon budget. At that point, emissions must not exceed net zero.
As a matter of physics, the additional emissions that will come from Huntly for the extra four years will result in higher and more dangerous eventual global warming. Meridian Energy's actions have facilitated these additional emissions.
I find Meridian’s actions to be completely contrary to the IPCC's finite carbon budget conception of mitigation and with Meridian’s previous statements on renewable electricity. Those statements now appear very shallow and insincerely held to say the least.
Therefore, it gives me some satisfaction to inform you I am moving my electricity account to a 100% renewable electricity generator who has carbon neutral certification and who is not a party of the Huntly contract. It is my sincere wish that as many customers as possible who are concerned about climate change also leave Meridian.