22 Mar 2016

Smelter gets extension on electricity decision

7:25 pm on 22 March 2016

Southland's aluminium smelter has been given more time to make up its mind on how much electricity it buys for its plant at Tiwai Point.

Tiwai Point smelter

Tiwai Point smelter Photo: Wiki Commons

The smelter buys 572 megawatts from Meridian Energy, which in turn splits its responsibilities via side deals with other power companies.

The smelter has the right to reduce its 572 megawatt obligation to 400 megawatts if it wants to, but is required to give Meridian plenty of notice.

The deadline for this was 30 April, but after a new agreement it will now have until 29 July to reveal its intentions.

The deferral of the deadline will give the smelter time to examine the impact of possible changes to the way people and companies pay for New Zealand's network of electricity transmission lines.

These changes could save the smelter money, since it is sited close to its main power source and so could end up paying less for transmission.

This issue is separate from the smelter's long term future.

While it has a deal to buy electricity until 2030, it has the right to shut down completely in 2018 if it wants to.

It would be required to give notice of this one year in advance.

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