Backup power to boost Coromandel community resilience

Friday, June 21, 2024

Two backup generators are being installed in Coromandel to power the township in the event of an outage and help support its electricity supply during busy holiday periods. 

Generation to Coromandel is a Powerco initiative to boost resilience and security of supply for remote communities, which will include supporting the establishment of community hubs on its electricity footprint, General Manager Electricity Karen Frew says.

The Coromandel Peninsula town is one of five communities on Powerco’s network to receive emergency backup electricity supply to date. Whangamōmona in eastern Taranaki, Castlepoint and Riversdale Bach in Wairarapa, and Himatangi Beach in the Whanganui-Manawatū region have also received generation.

“Natural disasters like we felt in Cyclone Gabrielle leave communities like Coromandel, who only have one power line supplying the town so no backup if there’s an outage, potentially isolated, with limited access for our crews to repair any damage to poles and lines. Installing generation means there’s a backup supply ready to go if the worst happens,” Karen Frew says.

Two generators are being installed within the Thames Coromandel District Council’s water treatment site on Whangapoua Rd, Coromandel, and will have the capacity to power about 3,000 homes and businesses. 

The work to make the generators fully operational, including installing associated switchgear and enabling them to turn on automatically in an outage, is expected to be completed during September. 

Powerco is also working with Emergency Management and community leaders throughout its electricity footprint, including Coromandel Peninsula, to establish community energy resilience projects. 

“In an emergency, local marae and rural halls become community hubs, which need to continue to be powered even if the rest of the area is without electricity,” Karen Frew says.

Powerco is also looking at options to deploy Base Power standalone power supply units to remote communities for backup supply. 

Meanwhile, in Matarangi, also on the Coromandel Peninsula, Powerco is installing a single generator on Matarangi Drive, at the eastern end of the town’s transfer station, which is expected to be operational by the end of the year. As Matarangi has a backup electricity line feeding into the township, this generator is specifically designed to provide extra power to the town during peak visitor periods. 

“With more people choosing to live in and visit the Coromandel region, there’s a greater demand for power,” Karen Frew says.

“This means there are times during the year – particularly during busy holiday periods – when the level of demand is greater than what our electricity network was originally designed to deliver. Without a backup option, in both Matarangi and Coromandel, there would be a chance of losing power during these times of peak demand.”

Below: The wrapped generators arrive on site in Coromandel township.

A shipping container sized generator, wrapped in plastic, is lowered to the ground by a crane

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