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Dairy demand drives Piako electricity upgrade

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Powerco has installed its largest transformer ever, to meet the growing demand from the dairy industry in the Piako area.

Imported from Australia, the 110kV, 102 tonne, 6.2 metre high transformer has been installed at Powerco’s Roache Road substation near Morrinsville.

This is the first time Powerco has delved into the 110kV arena. Previously the highest voltage it handled was 66kV.

The installation of the transformer, along with a new 33kV indoor switchboard, completes a major $6.5 million upgrade, for which planning began in 2010.

The upgrade was designed to significantly improve security of supply for Morrinsville and the surrounding rural area, including the Tatua dairy processing plant, and farming operations in the region.

Powerco electricity design manager Craig Webby says the load has been growing consistently, caused in no small part by additional demand from local dairying operations.

“Both Powerco and Transpower, the national grid operator, faced a lot of work in the region to meet this demand, so we worked together to come up with a better solution,” Mr Webby says.

“That was to significantly increase capacity at our existing substation site at Roache Road. The effect is that we have essentially moved load from Transpower’s Waihou facility near Te Aroha and transferred it to our own facility at Piako.”

While meeting the increasing dairying-related load was one of the key drivers for the upgrade, security of supply was also a critical consideration.

“We can now cater for the load going into the future, but we can also swap between Waihou and Piako if necessary. If one of them fails you can revert to the other,” Mr Webby says.

“Because we can manage the load better at the Piako site it means Transpower has more operational flexibility.”
The first stage of the Roache Road upgrade, undertaken in 2013, involved the installation of a transformer acquired from Transpower and previously located at Mount Maunganui.  Transpower then built a connection to its 110kV line located 1500 metres away. 

The second stage was to put in another transformer and a new 33kV indoor switchboard, replacing an outdoor yard. The Roache Road project is now fully functional, with site works recently completed.

A future upgrade will see the pre-used transformer removed and used for another Powerco project while another new one - this will also come from Australia - will be installed at the Piako substation.

By undertaking these upgrades, Powerco will not only be better placed to meet current demand but is future-proofing its ability to be able to deliver a secure supply to Piako, a region where consumption is soaring as dairying production, in particular, increases, says Mr Webby.
 

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