Farming intensification means substation needed

The intensification of farming in the Tarras area has increased demand for power in the wider Tarras area and a new substation is needed, Aurora Energy says.

It wants to designate a site of about 4300sq m on farmland beside Maori Point Rd to build a 66/11kV substation to provide a reliable power supply to the area.

On behalf of Aurora, Delta project engineer Peter Cowan told a Central Otago District Council hearings panel on Tuesday a substation had been expected to be required for the proposed Tarras irrigation scheme.

''Although that [scheme] has not happened, other, smaller irrigation plans have driven a need [for it] and growth of electrical load.''

It was predicted that in the coming summer, the reliably provided load by the nearby Queensberry substation would be exceeded, which could lead to irreparable breakdowns in the transformer, Mr Cowan said.

Construction of the proposed Lindis Crossing substation near Tarras would reduce pressure on the Queensberry facility.

Recommending the designation be approved, the council's planning consultant, David Whitney, said the substation would provide for growth of electricity load in the Tarras, Bendigo, Ardgour Valley, and Maori Point Rd areas, and the surrounding Upper Clutha communities.

The project would have economic benefits by providing the infrastructure necessary to boost rural production, particularly through the use of pivot irrigators, he said.

Any adverse effects of the proposal would be outweighed by the positive effects of the substation.

The requirement was not notified, so no submissions had been received, he said.

Planning consultant Tim Lester, on behalf of Aurora Energy, said all parties potentially affected by the project

had been consulted and supported the substation. Mr Cowan said electromagnetic fields outside the substation were likely to be 100 times less than the guidelines recommended by the Ministry of Health.

The cumulative noise from the operation of transformers on site would not exceed 40 decibels at any point on or beyond the substation boundary. The facility would be landscaped and surrounded by a 2.6m high fence. Mr Whitney said the substation ''would not have significant adverse effect in terms of the landscape and visual amenity values''.

Hearings panel chairman John Lane said the substation had been in the Aurora asset management plan since 2008, and asked why it had not been built yet.

Mr Cowan said the substation was not expected to be required until 2013 and while it was about one year overdue, it was hard to predict which projects would occur or ''fall over''.

If the project is confirmed, building the facility would take six months and be completed by about March next year The panel reserved its decision.

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