It's official: Mighty River Power is discontinuing its plans to seek resource consent for Marsden B following concerns about economic viability. It's an excellent outcome - the carbon dioxide emissions from Marsden B would have cost us $60 million a year, slightly more than Mighty River's 2006 dividend to the government. The only reason the proposal looked profitable was because the true cost of carbon (let alone the cost of lung cancer, emphysema, mercury and environmental degradation) was not included in the equation.
Now Mighty River will focus on renewables, particularly geothermal. So it looks as if another electricity company is going to go green.
Meanwhile, this may be the end of coal in New Zealand as well. If its not profitable in a written-down 70's-era station with practically no up-front costs, it certainly isn't profitable in a newly constructed (and therefore more expensive) station. We have a dirty legacy remaining in Huntly (which could burn gas, but instead prefers imported coal - again because the true costs are not included in the balance sheet), but after this its a fair bet that coal won't be getting a look in. And that's something we should all celebrate. Burning coal for electricity is like rolling in your own excrement - dirty and stinky, with added health problems to boot. "Clean and green" countries just shouldn't do it.