plans for hydro-electric dams on the Clutha River are being
drawn up as Contact Energy considers the options for its
power generation schemes.
The power generation company carried out a ground-drilling
project near Luggate earlier this year to complete a round of
geotechnical investigations at the four locations identified
as options for hydro-electric dams.
Contact Energy hydro projects manager Neil Gillespie
reiterated there was no preferred site for a possible
The completion of geotechnical investigations meant Contact
was now at a stage of "engineering and design" for the
potential hydro dam structures - alongside its ongoing
consultation with affected communities, he said.
"Now that we have all the [geotechnical] information, we'll
use that to look at what kind of dam might be built and what
it might look like," he said.
Engineering designs would also give an indication of what
costs might be involved, he said.
"The big thing for us to understand is the engineering and
environmental costs. This also gives a feel for the
economics, which in turn enables comparisons of whether it is
viable to construct and when."
A definitive timeframe for when any engineering design plans
might be completed to be put forward for community
consultation remained "somewhere in the near future", Mr
"Realistically, we hope to have it completed by some stage
next year ... This is open to change."
In 2009, Contact dusted off decades-old plans for Clutha
River hydro-electric schemes, deciding to revisit options for
potential dams at Luggate, Queensberry, Beaumont and Tuapeka
The company has spent the past two years investigating its
options at the four potential dam sites and consulting
communities, amid opposition from Clutha River protectionist
Mr Gillespie said there was "not a huge team" working on the
An "in-house" team of three people was involved with an
overview of the project, while external consultants were
contracted "as required".
"My focus and the most important part of this project is
picking up on the community side of feedback to ensure we can
understand those views," he said.
An engineering and design perspective was about assessing the
merits of the four options. He declined to specify what
ground conditions the geotechnical investigation at Luggate
had revealed and whether these were similar to those at other
There were geotechnical "commonalities" at all four sites,
which enabled the design team to work "across the options" at
each respective location, given the signalled engineering
plans for the different hydro dam schemes.