N.Z. utility modifies plan for 17-MW Hawea Gates

Utility Contact Energy has filed with regulators a modified design for its proposed 17-MW Hawea Gates hydropower project, negating the need for controversial river dredging.

Due to community concerns, Contact said September 7 its new resource consent application modified the project design to eliminate the need to deepen the Hawea River channel where water is to be discharged from the project.

“We have taken the views expressed during the initial consultation on board, and come up with a better design, which removes the need to deepen a stretch of river, and which will allow more electricity to be generated,” Contact Chief Executive David Baldwin said.

Originally proposed in April 2004, the Hawea Gates project involves construction of a small hydro plant at the company’s control gates of Lake Hawea in Central Otago.

Baldwin said the project would make a “small but significant” contribution to renewable generation in the Otago Lakes region, where demand has increased more than 75 percent in the last 10 years.

The official said Contact already is consulting with the community about the new plan and hopes for strong local support.

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