Mayoral Forum says Taranaki ready to lead renewable energy transition
The Taranaki Mayoral Forum is calling on the Government to make Taranaki the heart of New Zealand's renewable energy system.
The Forum, which comprises the mayors of New Plymouth, Stratford and South Taranaki and the Taranaki Regional Council chair, this week made a submission to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as part of its consultation on advancing New Zealand’s energy transition.
With climate change threatening communities and ecosystems, the Forum recognises New Zealand must reach its emissions targets and take a strategic approach to transitioning to a new energy system.
Forum chair, Stratford mayor Neil Volzke, says the submission makes clear that due to its people, natural resources and location, Taranaki has the potential to be a centre of renewable energy excellence and drive the country’s transition.
“The Taranaki Mayoral Forum is committed to enhancing community wellbeing and ensuring our region remains at the heart of New Zealand’s energy sector. We call on the Government to commit to the same.”
The submission sets out five actions the Government should take to support an equitable energy transition for Taranaki and help shift New Zealand to clean, renewable energy.
These include support for tangible projects that leverage the region’s oil and gas expertise and infrastructure and the creation of an environment that leverages energy generation assets and the development of Port Taranaki for offshore wind and hydrogen export.
It also calls for training to meet projected labour demands in the region, a regulatory environment that facilitates investment in the industry and Government investment in transmission lines out of Taranaki to ensure renewable energy can reach the national grid.
Mr Volzke says Taranaki is ideally placed to lead the required shift, due to its energy expertise, location and world-class wind and sunlight just waiting to be harnessed.
The Forum supports the development of a bespoke regulatory regime for offshore renewable electricity generation that protects the environment without unnecessary complexity.
It also considers green hydrogen has a potentially critical role to play in New Zealand’s energy future and believes Taranaki can underpin and enable advancements in New Zealand’s hydrogen industry.
The Forum also welcomed a considered approach to a gas transition, pointing out this must be managed to avoid system shocks and support households to electrify.
Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki, the regional development agency for Taranaki, collaborated closely with the Forum in preparing the submission. Additionally, the agency submitted its own statement, emphasising its commitment to the region's leadership in the renewable energy transition. They highlighted the significant economic benefits of the energy sector for Taranaki and stressed the importance of active engagement by the incoming government.
Kelvin Wright, Chief Executive of Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki, explained, "For our regional growth and energy transition to be effective, we need a platform that provides clear signals, stable policies, and a commitment to a pathway that fosters long-term investor confidence."
Mr Volzke says there are differing views on how New Zealand should achieve its renewable energy goals and ongoing public engagement – at a community and national level - will be vital to ensure all voices are heard.
He says the Forum acknowledges moving New Zealand to a new energy system, which both meets emissions targets and enhances community wellbeing, will be a challenge. “But it’s a challenge that Taranaki is ready, willing and more than able to take on.”