While many small towns in New Zealand are in decline, Waharoa in the Waikato is bucking the trend - and Powerco is investing $1.8m to meet the growing demand.
Powerco has upgraded its substation at Waharoa by adding a 17MVA transformer, capable of powering 8500 households.
The new transformer came into effect in June, when it was switched on for the first time.
The upgrade is one of several since the Waharoa substation opened eight years ago with a 5MVA transformer.
Powerco Electricity Service Delivery Manager Dave Hammond said that the latest upgrade, totalling $1.8m, was aimed at both meeting current demand and future-proofing the area for continued growth.
“Waharoa is a small industrial pocket that just keeps growing. We see our investment in the area as crucial to supporting that growth,” he said.
“The electricity load is expected to come up to 10MVA by 2019. We wanted to make sure we had the capacity to meet this demand and beyond.”
An expansion by Open Country Dairy Limited, one of the largest electricity consumers in the area, was one of the catalysts for the upgrade.
Dairy companies, cool stores and new businesses coming into the area were the main sources of growth in electricity use, Mr Hammond said.
“The average dairy farm uses twice as much electricity as it did 20 years ago, due to more stringent effluent treatment and refrigeration requirements,” he explained.
“There is also a mix of different businesses coming into the area. With its central location and easy access to Rotorua, Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland, Waharoa is well placed for distribution, without the set-up costs of larger centres. A growing number of businesses are choosing to take advantage of this and Powerco is proud to be supporting this growth.”