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Seeking solutions to N Auckland, Northland’s Needs

29 May 2006


Seeking solutions to North Auckland and Northland’s electricity needs

A paper requesting information on possible non-transmission alternatives for meeting the future electricity needs of North Auckland and Northland has been released by Transpower.

The owner and operator of the national electricity grid has identified that by about 2013 it is likely that demand for electricity in North Auckland and Northland will exceed the capacity of the power system.

The need to upgrade this part of the grid is recognised by the Electricity Commission and is a separate issue to how transmission into Auckland from the south is enhanced (i.e. the current consideration of the North Island 400 kV proposal).

The Request for Information paper seeks information on potential alternatives to transmission investment in the grid to meet the electricity requirements of North Auckland and Northland from 2013. Such alternatives could include new generation proposals or significant demand-side management initiatives.

Chief Executive Dr Ralph Craven says Transpower is very keen to get feedback on potential alternatives to transmission augmentation.

“There are a number of projects that are already underway or are planned to get the most out of the existing transmission network, including line upgrades and installing new substation equipment.

“For the longer term we have looked at a range of possible transmission options, costs and routes, but we want a complete picture of potential generation or demand-side investments in the region before going any further.

“The RFI sets the scene by illustrating the need, and seeking the views of others on non-transmission alternatives,” Dr Craven said.

Submissions on the RFI are requested by the 28 July 2006. Transpower will be initiating discussions with local government and business and wants to encourage community participation and understanding of the process.

“We are encouraging people to ‘think beyond the switch’ and to consider how electricity gets to their homes, businesses and communities. People in North Auckland and Northland need a secure electricity supply because it underpins their quality of life and their economic future,” Dr Craven said.

The RFI paper is available at www.transpower.co.nz or by calling 0800 THE GRID (0800 843 474).

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Questions and Answers

How does this RFI relate to your current proposal for a 400 kV line to Otahuhu?

The need to for investment in North Auckland and Northland is additional to the proposal to upgrade transmission capacity through the Waikato to Otahuhu (the 400 kV project). The affected transmission capacity in this case is that between Otahuhu and North Auckland/Northland.


What does the RFI conclude?

The RFI concludes that there is a need for investment to ensure reliable electricity supply to North Auckland and Northland regions is maintained beyond 2013. A medium demand growth forecast has been used to arrive at this date, a lower growth rate would see investment needed by 2014, and a higher growth rate would see investment needed by 2011.


When do submissions close?

Submissions close on 28 July 2006.


If you still end up favouring an upgrade to transmission capacity, will the Electricity Commission still consult on alternatives?

That’s up to the Commission. But by having a robust consultative process, we hope that they can use the findings we obtain to help them better assess any proposal that we might finally put to them, and perhaps speed up the approval process.


What is the process from here?

Once submissions close on 28 July 2006, Transpower will begin considering and assessing the information received.

A report will be issued showing how submissions have been taken into account. Transpower will then decide whether a transmission solution is needed, and if so, what form that should take and when it is required.

Investments must be assessed using a ‘Grid Investment Test’ and the Electricity Commission will only approve projects if they are satisfied the test has been passed. This should provide the public with confidence that the investment is justified and necessary. Transpower cannot unilaterally decide to invest in a particular option.

ENDS

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