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On route options for new transmission line

28 October 2004

Transpower to consult on route options for new transmission line

Possible routes for a new transmission line in the upper North Island have today been released for public consultation by the owner and operator of the national electricity grid, Transpower New Zealand Ltd.

Transpower has identified that an upgrade of the core grid in the upper North Island is necessary to meet growing demand and to ensure future security of supply.

Chief Executive Dr Ralph Craven has today confirmed Transpower’s intention to build a new 400 kV (400,000 volt) transmission line connecting substations at Otahuhu in south Auckland and Whakamaru north of Lake Taupo – a distance of around 200 km.

The total cost of the project is likely to be in the order of $500 million and it forms a significant part of a planned $1.5 billion national grid upgrade.

“Because it runs through a built-up area, the first seven kilometres of the new transmission line, leading south from Otahuhu, will be underground,” Dr Craven said. “Transpower has made this decision after balancing competing factors such as cost, complexity and social impact.

“The remainder of the line will consist of overhead wires supported by steel towers and two possible routes are being considered.

“Transpower is mailing information packs to all landowners and people living along the possible routes. In November Information Days will be held in 14 communities along the routes. An 0800 number and a dedicated project website have been established. We encourage people to take an interest - landowner and community feedback will be important in determining the final path for the new transmission line,” Dr Craven said.

Of the two possible routes, the western route follows the path of an existing 110 kV transmission line. The eastern route also follows this line in places but mostly crosses land where there is no existing transmission line. The routes are approximately 500 metres wide. The final path required for the transmission line will be much narrower than this.

“Transpower recognises that it has an obligation to help secure New Zealand’s energy future, while at the same time listening to the concerns of landowners and local communities,” Dr Craven said. “In May next year, after considering all the feedback and the results of field investigations, Transpower will release an interim report on the preferred route for the new transmission line. This will be followed by a further period for public submissions, with a final decision on the route to be announced by the end of June 2005.

“Transpower will then begin detailed negotiations with affected landowners. We will be seeking property easements and will pay appropriate compensation for the impact of the new line. We will need to obtain environmental approvals required under the Resource Management Act and the approval of the Electricity Commission to construct the line.

“When all the necessary approvals and property rights have been achieved, Transpower will let contracts for the construction of the new line. We need to have the line in operation by the winter of 2010 to meet forecast shortfalls in transmission capacity. Short-term initiatives to boost the capacity of the current system are underway to ensure demand for electricity can be met until that time,” Dr Craven said.

Further information on the North Island 400 kV Project can be found at www.gridupgrade.co.nz

ENDS

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