Council's land sale helps dairy factory expansion

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 07:33 08/01/2014

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The Invercargill City Council has sold a piece of its Awarua industrial land to PowerNet, so a substation can be built to meet the energy needs of a multimillion- dollar expansion to the nearby Open Country Dairy plant.

City councillor Graham Sycamore, whose portfolio includes the Awarua land between Invercargill and Bluff, said the 3600 sq m block was sold to the power company in December so it could build a substation this year.

The substation was needed to supply electricity to Open Country Dairy which has started expansion at its Awarua plant to make room for a new dryer, understood to double production at the plant.

Cr Sycamore said the block of land was sold to PowerNet, which is part owned by the city council's holding company, to ensure that enough power could be supplied to the dairy company and future companies that may be built on the land.

"The dairy factory needs a lot more power," he said. "They need the capacity down there to meet the extra needs."

City council resource consents officer Jo Shirley said the power company had given the council a notice of requirement, which is similar to applying for a resource consent, but gives the company more power during the process.

The Awarua land was still being subdivided off and the department was working on that, she said.

The subdivision would affect the council-owned Awarua land from 136-150 Colyer Rd.

The council department had asked the power company to get comment from two affected parties for the consent process, she said.

The power company had approached the council about building the sub- station just before Christmas, she said.

PowerNet acting general manager Keith Burns said the substation would replace an existing station on the land, which would remain during construction.

"The construction has been prioritised due to the projected load increase/growth in the area which includes the expansion of Open Country Dairy."

Mr Burns said the construction of the substation was expected to start in the next few weeks.

"The function of the substation is to reduce the high voltage power to a manageable voltage which will allow items such as machines, electric motors, domestic supply, lighting and heating to be available for consumers."

The project was expected to be completed by September this year, he said.

That completion date ties in with the expected completion date of the Open Country Dairy factory expansion.

Open Country Dairy chairman Laurie Margrain said the expansion of the factory would be completed, and milk would be processed in it, by September.

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He said he was not aware of the power company's plans but said the factory would be requiring a lot more electricity.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said the building of the substation was very exciting for the area.

It would open up the opportunity for other large factories or plants to build on the area and not have to worry about electricity supply, he said.

The council had been in discussions with other companies about possibly setting up plants and factories on the Awarua land, but nothing had come to fruition yet, he said.

- The Southland Times

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