9 Mar 2020

Lines company looks for land to build Waikato solar farm

3:47 pm on 9 March 2020

Lines company WEL Networks in Waikato looks set to turn its hand to generation, and is on the lookout for a site to build a solar farm.

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File photo. Photo: 123RF

It has put a call out to landowners who might have an appropriate site, asking them to get in touch.

Commercial Engagement general manager Michelle Allfrey said the energy produced would be used to help provide cheaper power.

"For quite some time we've been very mindful that the Waikato has quite a few issues in regard to energy hardship and about 25 percent of our residential customers make up 8 - 10 on the deprivation index according to Census data."

"Because we're based in the Waikato we see this every day, so we want to try and help these people out."

Allfrey said the energy generated for a lower cost through solar would help bring prices down, so WEL Network's retailer Our Power, was not at the mercy of volatile spot pricing.

"We will continue to supply from the grid... what we're trying to do it have more embedded generation that our retailer can use."

"We are allowed to own and operate up to 50 megawatts of generation within our network before regulatory restrictions are enforced through arms-length rules."

She said initially the site would not have storage but a two megawatt site could generate enough power for 400 homes.

The network is looking for a site between one and two hectares, close to existing power lines.

"Ideally we would lease it for a peppercorn rental and we would look after and maintain the land."

The network hoped to have the farm built within the financial year.

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