'Looks positive' for power customers

AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 10:19 20/02/2013
studholme substation
AL WILLIAMS/ Fairfax NZ

GROWTH: The Transpower sub station at Studholme.

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Waimate will likely place more demand on electricity suppliers with the expansion of the Studholme dairy factory and expected growth of irrigation, Mayor John Coles says.

Mr Coles has been in talks with Alpine Energy following concerns over power distribution issues.

Fonterra picked up a bargain last year, buying the Studholme factory - advertised for $100 million - for $48.5m.

NZ Dairies was purchased by Nutritek in 2009, which apparently invested close to $150m. Following its parent Russian company going bankrupt, Nutritek made a failed bid to sell the factory for $100m.

In the absence of a buyer it went into receivership last year.

Mr Coles said he felt confident Waimate was poised to become one of the fastest growing regions in terms of irrigation and was excited about the plant's future.

"From a council point of view I want to make sure we don't get stymied in terms of infrastructure."

Alpine Energy chief executive Andrew Tombs said there had been numerous discussions about power supply at the plant and any decision would be between Alpine and Fonterra, as a customer.

"It's a customer initiated thing; it all looks positive but nothing has been confirmed on paper."

He said Alpine was putting effort into providing new power lines where required and new transformers and poles had been ordered. Alpine staff were in conversation with Transpower to get assurance that extra demand could be delivered to growth areas.

Mr Tombs said Alpine was aiming to have extra reticulation in place within 12 months.

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