If Tiwai Point smelter shuts, no problem getting power to Auckland

Transpower boss talks about pushing Manapouri power north; says wholesale electricity would only dip temporarily.

Transpower says it can easily get Manapouri power to Auckland if the Tiwai Point smelter had to close.

Speaking today on TV3’s “The Nation”, Transpower CEO Patrick Strange said it was to possible to get “anything we like out of the South Island.“

“The only small constraint is between the Waitaki Valley and what we call the lower South Island which is Roxburgh and South, so we've got the Clutha, Manapouri etc,” he said.

“We can push about 600 megawatts south or north on that now."

Mr Strange said wholesale power prices would lwer if the smelter closed, but said the dip would be temporary.

“If something happened at Tiwai and it disappeared tomorrow, we had a huge fire, we'd spill a little bit of water for a couple of years but in reality it's not going to shut quickly," the Transpower CEO said.

“We've got a project approved on the books which will enhance that link in the lower South Island, which will mean Manapouri's just part of the national grid.

“So we don’t see any issues with Tiwai closing.”

And Mr Strange said Transpower didn’t see any issues over the Cook Strait cables if the smelter closed.

“After we've completed the work this year will be capable of 1200 megawatts north and south, and part of the reason that the enhancement occurred was because we all know Tiwai will go some day, and we're quite public about that. One of the scenarios was Tiwai would leave in 2022.” 

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