Sunny outlook for a few rural properties in Taranaki with solar power electricity

Base Power units provide electricity for rural properties and are powered by the sun.
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Base Power units provide electricity for rural properties and are powered by the sun.

The sun will soon help power a select few of farmers and rural businesses.

Powerco is setting up alternative power source units called Base Power at 20 properties in Taranaki, Manawatu, Wairarapa, Waikato and Coromandel after storms in July wreaked havoc on power lines, leaving thousands in the dark for several days.

Base Power is a system powered by the sun to generate renewable electricity for homes, businesses, small shearing sheds, dairy farms, and communication towers and back-country huts.

Excess energy is stored in batteries, with a diesel generator providing back-up and are an alternative to electricity supply from the national grid, where cost to upgrade the network and improve supply is "not cost effective", Powerco Electricity commercial manager Eric Pellicer said.

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"We know that power cuts are disruptive for people and we know some remote rural areas are prone to repeated and prolonged power cuts," he said.

"We see Base Power as a way to give our most remote customers a reliable power supply no matter the conditions, without having to rely solely on traditional power poles and lines."

Two units will be constructed each month with an initial 20 units to be dispersed to Powerco customers in remote, rural areas.

Each unit supplies the national grid equivalent of 230 volts at 50 Hz and would power a single property.

The company would not say how customers were prioritised but said specific sites had yet to be selected.

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Powerco also would not comment on the cost of a unit.

However Pellicer said customers are not required to purchase the units.

"The customer will no longer have to pay a retail electricity bill," he explained.

"Instead, they will pay a maintenance fee to Powerco for the unit, which is the equivalent of their current 'lines charge' on through their electricity retailer bill."

Pellicer said Base Power was not intended to answer calls for renewable energy in the face of climate change.

"While Base Power units do integrate a renewable solar energy source, the primary benefits for consumers are improved supply reliability and reliance, along with lower overall network related costs," he said.

 - Stuff

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