A 16-day outage will use help from Taranaki and Australia
More than 35 local contractors will be helping Contact Energy run a 16-day planned outage at the Stratford Peaker Plant this month.
The outage of will run from March 28 to April 30 and will enable comprehensive safety and reliability checks and modifications to the plant's two 'fast-start' General Electric LMS100 gas turbines or 'peakers' that provide an alternative electricity source when hydro generation in New Zealand is low.
The 'superstar' turbines are capable of generating enough power for 200,000 homes within 10 minutes of a cold start-up.
A team of around 40 technicians will be running the inspections of both turbines and the auxiliary plant, including around 35 Taranaki region contractors and five engineers from the manufacturer's Australian plant, who will be carrying out specific modifications.
Rob Nichol, Head of Generation at Contact Energy's Taranaki Combined Cycle Power Station, said Contact Energy only have two of these machines in New Zealand.
He said they are the largest and most efficient gas turbines available.
"We chose them because they have unsurpassed efficiency. In simple terms, we're looking at 50% more efficient than a Boeing 747 jet engine, and they dramatically reduce CO2 emissions and are capable of multiple fast starts without any operational impact," Nichol said.
"Critically they can run for long periods, delivering electricity to our customers at times when there isn't plentiful hydro generation available. This outage is about ensuring they remain safe-to- run, reliable and efficient."
Contact Energy runs comprehensive safe-to-run inspections on the gas turbines, which were installed in 2009-2010 and operational from 2011, every 4,000 hours or every 350 fast starts.
This 16-day process will be carried out in two stages for each unit, to minimise the time where both units are unavailable to just four days.
Nichol said despite the outages, there will be no impact on customers or the community.
"Contact has a diverse range of generation sources across geothermal, hydro and other gas-fired stations to draw on, so the outage will have no direct impact for our customers," he said.