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Trustpower committed to Australian renewables projects

Tauranga-based electricity company Trustpower says it remains committed to its renewable energy projects in Australia, in spite of the uncertainty created by the review of the Renewable Energy Targets policy by the federal government.

Meridian Energy canned a 34 Megawatt hydro scheme in Northern Queensland last week, citing the uncertainty created by a long-running review of the RET, which Prime Minister Tony Abbott vowed to reform, saying it was raising the cost of electricity by subsidising renewable energy plants, which compete in Australia with its predominantly coal-fired electricity producers.

"We have several projects consented and some more in the pipeline," a Trustpower spokesman, Graeme Purches, told BusinessDesk in an email. "Our view is that the worst case scenario is, regardless of what the current Australian government does with the RET, sanity will prevail in the next election cycle.

"There are serious doubts about the extent to which the government will be able to change this, as it needs support from outside its ranks. So on that basis we are not flagging away anything," said Purches. "We are boxing on so that we can be in a position of being able to pounce on the opportunities when the conditions are right."

The company said in its annual profit announcement in May that it was looking to growth in Australia to restore earnings momentum as low electricity demand growth in New Zealand is making retail competition intense and has removed the need for any new generation plant for the next several years.

Trustpower has six wind and hydro stations operating in New South Wales and South Australia, with the NSW purchased from previous owners and the Snowtown project in South Australia expanded this year to an installed capacity of 371 Megawatts.

Also on its books are proposals to build a 300 MW windfarm at Dundonnell in Western Victoria and a 30MW wind project at nearby Salt Creek.