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Top of the South Transmission/RMA problem

Briefing Note: Top of the South Transmission/RMA problem By Nick Smith, MP Nelson, National’s Environment spokesman

The Transmission Problem

Nelson/Marlborough and northern West Coast is serviced by a 220kV Transpower line from Islington (Christchurch) to Kikiwa (60km south of Nelson) that has a capacity of 201MW with fully utilised local generation (Cobb & Argyle) and standard security allowances.

Power demand has been growing at 3-4% a year with population and industry growth (last Census had Tasman 1st, Nelson 3rd, Marlborough 4th) and has already topped 200MW this winter.

The short-term solution this year has been the aggressive use of ripple control on hot water heating, a public campaign to reduce loads between 5pm and 7pm, full use of customer-owned generation, paying some customers to reduce load, and delaying new supply.

The long-term solution involves adding Islington-to-Kikiwa 200kV wires to existing pylons that were built in the 1960s and designed for lines on both sides. This involves new wires on some sections and replacing others with higher voltage wires on other sections, costing approximately $34 million.

The RMA problem

Installation of new and replacement wires requires consent of 85 individual landowners and six Councils (Christchurch City, Waimakariri District, Hurunui District, Tasman District, Marlborough District, Canterbury Region).

Each Council has different rules and, under the Act, each consent must be processed separately and each may be appealed to the Environment Court. The process could take as long as three years, while the work required would take approximately 6-8 months.

Supporting documents: Transpower NZ Ltd, Half Yearly Report 31 December 2003 “Transpower continues to hold concerns that the application of the Resource Management Act in practice will put at risk the company’s plans to implement timely significant grid enhancement. Transpower RMA briefing note “Transpower has for some years had concerns that the application of the RMA in practice could put at risk the company’s investment plans and ultimately the economic health of the nation. Network Tasman Press Release 14 June 2004 “Urgency is now required to complete the third circuit between Islington and Kikiwa” Network Tasman briefing on Transmission Security Constraints, June 2004 “Third circuit to be constructed on existing towers in 2009” “Urgency required – 2009 too long out” “RMA likely to be an issue”


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