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Former Mataura paper mill will boost electricity supplied to national grid
The owner of the former Carter Holt Harvey Mataura paper mill is planning to install a second electricity turbine at the plant.
Dunedin-based businessman Greg Paterson has owned the former paper mill for about five years and had earlier overhauled an existing turbine at the plant, which is now supplying power to the national grid.
Mr Paterson said yesterday he had a resource consent which allowed him to install another turbine and he had hired consultants to work through some compliance issues before starting work on the project.
While Mr Paterson could not say what the output from the new turbine would be, engineers were still working on defining the exact optimum output levels, he said.
The site already has three flumes, which are concrete chutes the water is channelled through to supply the turbines.
Two were used for the existing turbine and the third would be used to supply the second turbine, he said.
‘‘It's already existing and ready to go; it's not as big a deal as it [could have been],'' Mr Paterson said.
The amount of power the existing turbine supplied to the national grid went ‘‘up and down'' with the river levels, he said. ‘‘On good days you make money from it.''
The new turbine would also supply electricity to the national grid.
The plant has largely been empty since Carter Holt Harvey mothballed the mill in 2000. However, there are two smaller tenants using some of the facility.
Mr Paterson said when he bought the plant he knew it would take some time before it was rented out as there were probably not many potential tenants in the area.
However, he had also been trying to attract businesses from outside the area. ‘‘It's like fishing really,'' he said.
However, Solid Energy was investigating using the former paper mill for the production of lignite briquettes which were used in industrial burners.
Mr Paterson said investigations into that possibility were still taking place.
Solid Energy communications manager Eammon Conaghan said earlier the state-owned enterprise was investigating either using the former paper mill or building a plant at its Waimumu-based New Vale mine.
The idea involves reducing the moisture content of lignite and forming briquettes, so that it burns more efficiently. It still had to be decided if the project would be financially viable and if there was a market for the briquettes, Mr Conaghan said.
As part of the feasibility study, the company was investigating where to base the pilot plant and whether it was better to use an existing infrastructure or build a small plant at the New Vale site, he said earlier.
Mr Conaghan said yesterday the company was still undertaking the feasibility study and the results were not expected until June.
If Solid Energy decides to use the former paper mill, the site is already zoned industrial and the company will only have to apply for resource consents to discharge to air.