Recent approval for the expansion of the Ngawha geothermal power station is a great step for the Far North says Top Energy Consumer Trust Chair Yvonne Sharp.

Last week the Trust gave the go ahead for Top Energy to borrow the required funds to increase the generation output from the geothermal resource at Ngawha from 25MW to 53MW.

Ms Sharp says this means that 90% of the power consumed in the Far North will be generated locally.

“This decision was the result of a number of years of working with Top Energy directors and management and resulted in the company presenting the Trust with a business case that was soundly based. As a consumer owned Trust this project will benefit our communities into the future.”

The $175m expansion will be funded by bank borrowings and this sum is forecast to be repaid within 11 years of the new plant being commissioned.

“Once the debt is repaid, the cash surplus will create opportunities for further investment in the power network or a return of funds to the shareholders.”

The Company has estimated that, when it is commissioned, the expansion will add $40m – $50m to the value of this Far North asset.

Sale of the power generated, most likely to energy retailers supplying the Far North, is expected to increase retail competition in the region. This is what happened when the previous expansion of the Ngawha plant occurred.

Ms Sharp says, as with any major project such as this expansion of the Ngawha generation plant, there are risks involved but the Trust is satisfied that these have been comprehensively assessed and that controls are available to manage them.

The Trust thanks the Board of Top Energy Limited and Chief Executive Russell Shaw for all the work leading up to this point and looks forward to a future that will ensure a greater security of supply for the Far North and its owners, the consumers of the district.

Yvonne Sharp

Phone 09 4077 992