New Plymouth to get power station

ROB MAETZIG
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2012

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A multimillion-dollar power station has been confirmed for a site near New Plymouth.

Bay of Plenty Energy, a subsidiary of Todd Corporation, yesterday confirmed it proposed to build a 100megawatt gas-fired peaker plant on a site between Junction Rd and Mangorei Rd, about 7km south of the city.

Peaker plants are quick-start power stations that can be called into action during periods of high electricity demand or to provide base load at times of lower hydro and wind-power generation.

Contact Energy already has one such 200MW plant in Stratford, which cost $400million to build, and Todd has almost completed building a 100MW version alongside its McKee production station inland from Waitara.

Now it intends building an identical plant off Junction Rd, opposite the city's water treatment plant, which when operating at full capacity will be capable of providing power for up to 100,000 households.

Yesterday, Bay of Plenty Energy indicated it will lodge resource consent applications with Taranaki Regional Council and New Plymouth District Council.

The new power station will help boost security of electricity supply for New Zealand and in particular the Taranaki region, said Babu Bahirathan, downstream energy vice-president for Todd Corporation.

"From a security of supply perspective the proposed plant will further boost the New Zea-land power system's resilience against dry spells," he said.

The power station will be designed primarily to provide peaking capacity, producing electricity during periods of high demand, but will also be capable of running as a base-load plant during periods when hydro and wind power are unable to generate.

"As with the McKee peaking plant now nearing completion near Tikorangi, there will be considerable economic spinoffs from the project during the construction phase, which at its peak is expected to provide work for 60 to 70 people."

Proximity to existing infrastructure, the Maui gas pipeline, water supply and electricity transmission lines support the case for the Junction Rd site.

Mr Bahirathan said Bay of Plenty Energy will continue to closely consult neighbours and other stakeholders throughout the resource consenting process.

Announcement of this latest power station project adds credence to speculation that Todd is achieving major success with its drilling programme at the Mangahewa onshore gasfield.

Early this year the company signed a 10-year deal, worth $860m, with Methanex New Zealand to supply Mangahewa gas to the methanol production complex at Motunui.

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This deal allowed Methanex last week to restart its second production unit, which will double total production of Taranaki methanol to up to 1.5million tonnes a year.

Recently Todd chief executive Paul Moore also revealed at a function in New Plymouth that it is highly likely a major $65m expansion of the McKee/ Mangahewa oil and gas production station will be confirmed this year.

Todd plans to drill up to 25 new gas wells at Mangahewa over the next five years.

- Taranaki Daily News

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