Decision on energy plan needed soon

Photo: ODT files
Southern Partnership Group chairman Pete Hodgson. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Ongoing discussions regarding a possible new energy scheme for Dunedin will require some decisions to be made in the coming months, Southern Partnership Group chairman Pete Hodgson says.

Late last year, the Otago Daily Times reported plans for an eco-heating scheme to replace the largely coal-fired Dunedin Energy Centre were at an advanced stage.

This week, Mr Hodgson said while the infrastructure was approaching its end of life in "the next 10 years or so", decisions on the project would need to be reached in coming months to meet the planning needs of the Dunedin City Council.

The project had "many moving parts and multiple interested parties" and a detailed review and feasibility study of future schemes was under way.

The University of Otago was a large user of the scheme, as was the existing Dunedin Hospital and Alsco laundry.

The council was actively exploring the possibility of the existing scheme being expanded into the city centre as part of its consideration of potential low-emissions heating options for its Octagon-area buildings, Mr Hodgson said.

"By contrast, the new Dunedin hospital will be a smaller user than the existing hospital, in part because it will be built to higher insulation standards.

"Decisions will need to be reached in coming months to meet the planning needs of the DCC [council].

"Because the new facility will be at least eight years away, a key question is whether it is sensible to convert more of the existing facility away from coal in the meantime."

A university spokeswoman referred comment to the Southern Partnership Group.

The council could not respond to a request for comment this week as its staff were engaged in the council’s response to the change in the Covid-19 Alert Level shift.

However, the council’s forward work programme notes a budget review of its 10-year plan will begin in December.



How about instead of trying to bully others into making decisions, the secretive hospital committee comes clean and tells the people of Dunedin and Otago exactly which clinical services will be offered in the new facilities?

Off the cuff lines such as "we will use far less heating" does partly reflect a better insulated building. But it may also because the new places are overall smaller with fewer patient spaces. This secret mob have been hinting for over a year that some services will be dropped. Time to tell the truth, even if it is only weeks before the election.

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