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New High Voltage Circuit goes Live in Taupo

Media Statement For Immediate release
November 27, 2009

Unison Network's New High Voltage Circuit goes Live in Taupo

Unison Network’s high voltage electrical circuit, which will connect new geothermal power to both Taupo’s electricity network and the national grid, went live today (Friday November 27).

The 4.7 km power line is a direct link from Contact Energy’s Tauhara phase one geothermal binary power station. The line crosses the Waikato River and connects into Transpower’s Wairakei sub-station.

Unison Network’s chief executive Ken Sutherland said the power line will boost the electricity network to Taupo residents and provide for even more locally produced electricity.

“The power line has the capacity to carry 44 megawatts of electricity which will more than handle the binary plant’s average output of 23 megawatts - and that’s more than enough to power all of Taupo.

“Unison already connects the Rotokawa geothermal generation and Hinemaiaia hydro scheme to its Taupo Network.

“With the addition of Contact’s new generation, Unison’s Taupo network will be more than self sufficient exporting surplus generation back into the national grid,” Mr Sutherland said.

“As a region, Taupo is unique in New Zealand in that it generates more locally connected electricity than it uses.”

Contact Energy communications manager Jonathan Hill said the $100 million power station was on track to be commissioned around the middle of 2010 and was part of a major geothermal development programme in the Taupo region.

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The activation of the new high voltage circuit was another important step forward for the project.

The electrical circuit project, which took just over a year, has been a major undertaking for Unison’s Taupo and Rotorua network and contracting teams who have combined years of experience, design skill and technology to get the job done – on time and to budget, said Mr Sutherland.

“Today’s commissioning completes a very successful project which also relied heavily on a willingness of all parties to work together in the best interest of electricity consumers.

“The co-operation Unison had from Environmental Waikato, Taupo District Council, local Iwi, and the Department of Conservation helped make this happen,” he said.

Contact is also consulting the local community on Tauhara stage two – a 250 megawatt geothermal power station to be located on the Tauhara steamfield to the north-east of Taupo township. Contact expects to file a resource consent application for this project in early 2010.


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