Electricity distributor Powerco has begun community consultation regarding its plans for a major electricity supply upgrade for Whangamata, New Zealand. Powerco electricity planning manager Michael Whaley said Whangamata and the surrounding area was supplied by a single 33-kV line from Waihi.
"Powerco has undertaken significant investment in upgrades to the Whangamata substation and has also refurbished the existing 33-kV line supplying the town. However, we plan to build a second 33-kV line from Waikino to Whangamata which will effectively double security of supply to the area, reducing the number of unplanned power cuts and also allowing us to undertake large maintenance projects without having to shut down parts of the network," Whaley said.
Whaley said it was difficult to say exactly when the line would be built as Powerco had to obtain easements from affected property owners including the Department of Conservation and a number of private land owners. "As well as gaining landowner consents and easements, Powerco will also need to go through the resource consenting process which requires a significant level of consultation with all stakeholders in the area, designing a detailed line route and then having the route designated in the district plan. These processes can take a number of years but if we have the support of the community we could be commencing construction in around three years time."
Whaley said Powerco was acutely aware of the inconvenience and economic impact of unplanned power cuts, which was a significant factor in proposing the new line.
"Powerco is committed to lifting electricity network performance on the Coromandel Peninsula and over the past few years we have invested many millions of dollars in network upgrades and refurbishments. The new line into Whangamata is a major part of our long term plan for the local electricity network and will deliver a marked improvement to the quality of electricity supply to Whangamata."
Whaley said Powerco would be undertaking a comprehensive consultation program in Whangamata over the next four months to discuss the project with as many members of the community as possible, to seek their opinions and identify what issues various groups had regarding the project.
Powerco is New Zealand’s second largest electricity and gas distribution utility with around 400,000 consumers connected to its networks. Powerco’s electricity networks are in Tauranga, Thames, Coromandel, Eastern and Southern Waikato, Taranaki, Wanganui, Rangitikei, Manawatu and the Wairarapa.