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Green light for Contact Energy's Tauhara geothermal plans

Monday 1st November 2010

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Contact Energy is the first beneficiary of a fast-tracked resource consent process under the new Environmental Protection Authority, winning draft approval for its 250 Megawatt Tauhara geothermal power station project.

The new plant will be the largest constructed for many years, and is likely to be built before the 220MW Te Mihi power station, in the Wairakei geothermal steamfield, for which Contact also holds resource consents.

The Tauhara plant will draw energy from the largely untapped Tauhara steamfield, although Contact recently opened a smaller binary plant, the 23MW Te Huka power station, which came into production earlier this year.

“If approved, the power station will bring around $1 billion of investment into the Taupo region and the country’s energy supply, and will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of around 270,000 average homes,” said managing director, David Baldwin.

“We are delighted that the draft decision is to grant the consents,” said Baldwin. “We are also pleased that having been part of the new Environmental Protection Agency Board of Inquiry process we will likely receive a final decision by Christmas.”

Under the amended Resource Management Act, the new Board of Inquiry Consent process sets a deadline of nine months for a decision from time of notification for projects of national significance.

Contact’s 540MW Hauauru Ma Raki windfarm on the west coast north of Raglan is also subject to the process, which was made possible in “phase one” of the government’s Resource Management Act reforms.

The Contact share price rose 1.2% to $5.92 in trading on the NZX this morning.

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