Survey show Islanders favour hydro

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 11:50 04/12/2012

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Stewart Islanders have given support to a $180,000 investigation of electricity options, and around a third of people who responded to a survey favoured hydro over other forms of generation.

Results of the survey, compiled by Venture Southland for the Southland District Council, will be presented to the island's community board on Monday.

Electricity on Stewart Island is presently run from a diesel generator and costs are several times those on the mainland.

Eighty-four residents responded to the survey, which was posted to all ratepayers on the island - around a 30 per cent response.

It asked two questions:

  1. The community board is keen to keep careful control over expenditure and the first steps in this work would be water flow data collection (for hydro), further wind investigation and full analysis of the solar data that has been collected over the last 18 months. Do you agree that these are the appropriate first steps?
  2. Do you accept that Stewart Island Electrical Supply Authority may have to spend up to $180,000 to progress the design for an affordable and reliable electricity supply on Stewart Island?

Seventy-five per cent said they agreed with the first steps outlined in question one, 12 per cent disagreed and 14 per cent gave a neutral or no response.

There was more opposition to question two.

Fifty-seven per cent agreed or strongly agreed with spending $180,000, while 20 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed. Twenty-three per cent gave a neutral or no response.

Respondents favoured investigation of hydro generation above any form.

In the comments section, 15 per cent wrote the investigation should focus on hydro as the priority, while 17 per cent said it should focus only on hydro.

Fourteen per cent wanted cheaper analysis.

Board chairman John Spraggon said the board saw hydro as the priority. ''The board is in favour of hydro, doing an evaluation of a hydro system to see if there is enough water.''

''I would hope we would approve (the steps outlined in the survey) but I can't speak on behalf of the board.''

If approved, monitoring could start early in the new year, he said.

Venture Southland enterprise project manager Robin McNeill, who has been running the project for the council, said he was not surprised by the level of support for hydro.

However, without data, it was impossible to say whether it would work and it was important to continue research in other areas.

''I wouldn't want to get any hopes up hydro will be a panacea,'' Mr McNeill said.

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''The key thing which really needs to go ahead is to measure the hydro potential. The sooner it is started the better. You need a year's worth of data.''

- © Fairfax NZ News

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