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Transmission upgrade path important

24 October 2006

Prompt determination of Transpower's amended transmission upgrade path important for all concerned

The NZ Council for Infrastructure Development welcomes amended proposal submitted by Transpower today to the Electricity Commission for upgrading the transmission supply into Auckland and Northland. It urges prompt resolution of the upgrade path by all parties.

"Providing certainty on the grid upgrade path will encourage generation investment decisions, and provide a needed boost to business and investment confidence generally,
says NZCID Chief Executive, Stephen Selwood.

"Certainty of direction is also critical for the communities directly affected by the upgrade path decision. There are few things worse than not knowing what's going to happen.

"The headline grabbing debate over the transmission upgrade path has gone on for too long.

"The sooner a decision is made, the sooner outstanding differences can be reconciled. Recent positive discussions between Transpower and Federated Farmers are encouraging in that regard and are to be commended.
The amended proposal involves:

* Building an overhead transmission line from Whakamaru to near the South Auckland urban boundary, which will be 400 kV capable but will operate initially at 220 kV. (Delaying expenditure on costly transformer equipment).

* A transition station near the South Auckland urban boundary, where the overhead line will connect to underground cables.

* An underground cable section from the transition station to Pakuranga substation. (Rather than Otahuhu, increasing diversity of supply).

* A second underground cable section to Otahuhu substation to be added at a future date (As demand increases).

* Voltage to be raised from 220 kV to 400 kV at a future date.

* Using triplex conductor (a bundle of three wires) to maximise the capacity of the overhead line, pushing the need for another new line well into the future.

* An estimated cost of $683 million (in 2006 dollars, including contingencies, interest during construction and foreign exchange risk management).

"It is to be hoped that the Electricity Commission will have sufficient information to enable them to provide a draft decision on the amended proposal before Christmas, so that Transpower can proceed with RMA consent processes early in 2007 and get on with the essential task providing diversity of electricity supply into Auckland", Selwood says.

NZCID is an authority at the forefront of infrastructure development issues. Our numerous members stem from sectors across New Zealand, including: equity owners, service providers, public sector agencies, major infrastructure users. Together we share a clear purpose: world class infrastructure for the benefit of all New Zealanders. A goal we are committed to achieving by:

- Raising awareness of the fact that infrastructure underpins our community's quality of life and that inadequate infrastructure holds back New Zealand's economic and social growth

- Generating valuable debate on the quality and level of infrastructure provision to meet New Zealanders' needs

- Encouraging the implementation of best practice infrastructure provision and management

- Identifying the condition of New Zealand's infrastructure and the challenges facing our infrastructure providers
More information about NZCID can be found at: www.nzcid.org.nz

ENDS

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