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Hawke's Bay new electricity generation plant

Hawke's Bay site confirmed for new reserve electricity generation plant

The Government is proceeding with plans to build a new 155 megawatt power plant at Whirinaki, Hawke's Bay, Energy Minister Pete Hodgson confirmed today.

Mr Hodgson said investigations of possible alternative sites for the plant in the South Island had not produced an option that would allow the plant to be built before next winter.

"There would have been advantages to siting this plant in the South Island if possible, but the higher priority is to have it ready to generate electricity next winter if it is needed," Mr Hodgson said. "Using the Whirinaki site we expect to have the plant ready to generate by the end of May next year and possibly earlier. This will be a valuable improvement to the security of New Zealand's electricity supply."

The new oil-fired plant will provide reserve generation for use during very dry periods when hydro lake inflows are abnormally low. It will also provide reserve generation should there be a major breakdown in another generating plant.

The Whirinaki site is owned by Contact Energy, which is contracted to manage the construction and operation of the plant. Major foundation works are due to begin in October, generators and turbines are due to arrive on site before Christmas and commissioning and testing are scheduled for March and April next year.

Possible South Island sites for the plant were investigated because there are efficiency advantages in having reserve generation there when inflows to the hydro lakes are abnormally low. These advantages might mean that other reserve generation units or equivalent demand-side measures are provided in the South Island in due course. The recently appointed Electricity Commission will develop a portfolio of reserve energy over the next two to three years.

The plant will cost about $150 million to build and the cost will be recovered through a levy on the industry. This equates to less than $5 a year for the average household.

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