Power station sold off

Power station buildings to be demolished

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2012
tdn chimney stand
JONATHAN CAMERON
Port Taranaki and Methanex have jointly paid $24 million to buy New Plymouth's decommissioned power station off Contact Energy. The power station is coming down but the chimney is staying up.

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The power station is coming down but New Plymouth's landmark chimney is staying up.

Port Taranaki and Methanex have jointly paid $24 million to buy New Plymouth's decommissioned power station off Contact Energy.

The Taranaki Regional Council owned port will take the lion's share of the site, paying $15.5m for 15 hectares of land directly adjoining its current operations and up to Centennial Dr.

Methanex has agreed to buy a smaller area around its methanol tanks for $8.5m.

Port Taranaki chief executive Roy Weaver said most of the power station buildings would be demolished but the 198 metre chimney would remain.

"At least in the interim. It's a got a 50-year life span in front of it. Who knows if there will be a use for it that we don't know about in the next 50 years," he said.

The main turbine hall is also likely to remain if the port can find a customer who requires indoor storage facilities.

Port Taranaki is currently the third busiest export port in the country behind Tauranga and Lyttleton, and Mr Weaver said the purchase of the land would enable the port to continue to grow its bulk dry goods and log exports.

This would give the port the potential to become the No 2 export operation he said.

"The port has always struggled for land. We have shifted over 50 buildings from the main port area, including our operations building, to make better use of the land we had.

"We have changed over the years from being mainly an oil and gas hub that received all its cargo through pipelines under the ground to now dealing with more dry goods and logs which need room above ground," Mr Weaver said.

The $15.5m price tag is well above the $3.875m land valuation for the full 21.5h site in 2010 and the port will have to pay to clear it of buildings. Mr Weaver said it was still five to six times cheaper than reclaiming land.

Contact's chief executive Dennis Barnes said it had reserved the right to repurchase part of the site to develop a power station or gas infrastructure to allow the import and export of gas.

"It's just preserving those options.

"We are not doing any work today to do anything about that. It's not like we are going to sell the land and reappear within a year and say we're having some back."

Mr Barnes would not say how long the right for repurchase extended other than it was for "decades".

Methanex managing director Harvey Weake said the purchase enabled them to meet their continued logistics needs at the port.

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NEW PLYMOUTH POWER STATION

Constructed in the 1970s, it was used primarily to provide power when hydro lakes were low or electricity demand was high.

Originally designed to run on coal, it was soon changed to run on either natural gas or fuel oil.

In December 2007, Contact permanently closed the power station after asbestos was discovered there. All asbestos was removed during 2008 and 2009.

Since decommissioning the site, Contact has primarily used it for storage.

In 2010, the 21.5 hectare site had a land valuation of $3.875m and a capital value of $46.25.

Port Taranaki will pay $15.5m for a 15 hectare piece of land adjoining its current operation.

Methanex will pay $8.5m for a smaller portion of land underneath the methanol tanks they currently own.

The most recognisable part of the power station is the 198m chimney. It contains 16,400 tonnes of concrete, 1200 tonnes of reinforcing steel, and almost one million bricks.

When the power station was being built, the bricks were laid at an average rate of 10,000 per day.

- Taranaki Daily News

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