New Zealand company purchases three hydropower plants in Australia

Merdian Energy Ltd. has acquired three hydropower plants in Australia through purchasing 100% of the shares in GSP Energy Pty Ltd., a subsidiary of Trustpower Ltd., for a reported US$129.46 million.

Based in New Zealand, Meridian Energy and Trustpower are the country’s fourth- and fifth-largest utilities, respectively, and both are major New Zealand energy retailers. The deal is subject to approval from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board.

All three plants are located in New South Wales and include the following details:

58-MW Hume Power Station
Commissioned in 1957, the Hume hydropower project includes Hume Dam, which impounds Murray River, creating Lake Hume. Located upstream from Albury-Wodonga, Hume Dam is the second-largest dam in NSW. The powerhouse contains two 29 MW vertical Kaplan turbines and transmits power via a 132-kV line to Albury Substation in NSW and by a 66-kV line to Wodonga in Victoria.

28-MW Burrinjuck Power Station
Commissioned in 1928, the Burrinjuck hydro facility includes Burrinjuck Dam, a gated concrete-walled gravity dam that impounds Murrumbidgee River, creating Lake Burrinjuck. Located in Yass, powerhouse units include: two 6 MW horizontal dual Francis turbines and a 16 MW Alstom vertical Francis turbine. Power is transmitted to the National Electricity Market via the 132-kV Tumut-to-Yass transmission line.

7.2-MW Keepit Power Station
The Keepit hydro project was commissioned in 1960 and is located in Gunnedah. The scheme includes Keepit Dam, which impounds Namoi River, creating Lake Keepit. The powerhouse contains one 7.2 MW unit and is connected to Gunnedah Substation by a 66-kV transmission line.

In a press release today, Meridan Energy said acquiring the hydro assets located in NSW “allows the company to continue to cover its growing retail business by adding 92.4 MW of hydro to its renewable generation portfolio.”

In March 2003, Meridian purchased Southern Hydro and began upgrading the company’s hydropower assets in North East Victoria.

Trustpower says it currently operates 38 hydropower projects in New Zealand across 19 hydroelectric schemes. In 2014, the company purchased GSP Energy from NSW state-owned Green State Power Pty Ltd. for $55.8 million.

In August, Trustpower announced it was conducting a formal valuation of GSP Energy ahead of what many hydro industry professionals thought signaled GSP Energy being sold.

Trustpower said it is divesting itself of GSP Energy as it focuses on supporting the New Zealand government’s long-term energy strategy, which commits to a target of 90% of New Zealand’s electricity supply coming from renewable sources by 2025.

Currently, New Zealand’s electricity supply generated from renewable sources is about 70%, according to Trustpower.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for

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