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Closure of New Plymouth power station

Closure of New Plymouth power station

Contact Energy today confirmed that the 31 year old New Plymouth power station will not be re-opened.

In September, asbestos was discovered in areas of the plant where it was not previously recorded on the plant’s asbestos register, and the plant was immediately shut down. Since then Contact has examined a range of options in relation to the future of the plant and last week began consulting with staff over a proposal to close the plant.

Chief Executive David Baldwin today said following discussions with staff the decision had been taken to retire the plant.

“I want to acknowledge the New Plymouth power station staff for their professionalism in running this site over the years and for their patience during the last few months.

“I appreciate that the last few months have been a period of uncertainty for our staff. We will continue to discuss other employment or redundancy options with them.”

Mr Baldwin reiterated that the health and safety of staff remained the highest priority and the company’s commitment to support staff that may have been exposed to asbestos remains firmly in place.

“The New Plymouth power station has played an important role in New Zealand’s energy sector over the last three decades, and the staff who have been employed at the site have made an important contribution to New Zealand’s energy supply.”

Mr Baldwin said the retirement of the New Plymouth power station has been driven both by the age of the plant, its operational and environmental inefficiency, and the increasing need for thermal power stations to be fast-start, efficient and flexible in order to support greater levels of fluctuating renewable generation.

“Contact intends to replace the New Plymouth power station’s 300 megawatt contribution to peak capacity with new, modern, fast-start peaking capacity which will likely be located at its Stratford site. The new peaking plant will be significantly more efficient than the New Plymouth power station, will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions, and play a vital role in supporting wind energy and ensuring a secure supply of electricity.”

Contact is committed to safely decommissioning the New Plymouth plant. No decision has been made on the future use of the site or the power station buildings, chimney and other structures.

Mr Baldwin said that to provide the flexibility that New Plymouth provided, Contact had entered into financial arrangements in the wholesale electricity market which gave a similar effect to the portfolio.


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