Maori Geothermal Plant set to benefit Rotorua

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One of Rotorua’s oldest Maori land incorporations could become a key player in supplying electricity to Rotorua. Rotoma No 1 Incorporation will this week seek resource consent from Environment Bay of Plenty to build a 35kw geothermal power station on forestry land it owns between Lake Rotoma and Lake Rotoiti.

The plant is expected to cost about $100 million to build and to generate enough electricity to supply Rotorua. In 1995 Rotoma No 1, which represents about 1700 landowners around lakes Rotoma, Rotoiti, Rotoehu and Rotorua, contracted Kiwi Petroleum Ltd to test geothermal wells it owns.

GeothermalFieldRotoruaCPlans include using the geothermal fields below the Rotoma Forest to produce electricity and also for timber drying and agriculture. The site on the Rotoma Bluffs is being eyed up for the geothermal power station the organisation says could supply “substantial amounts” of power to the national grid.

Rotoma No 1 chairman Robbie Gardiner said the incorporation was to present its case to the regional council at Okataina Lodge today. Mr Gardiner said he was confident the incorporation would get the necessary consents.

“We are confident that the preparation and the things we have done across the board will get us a positive result.”

He said there were two other major Maori organisations and a number of smaller ones which had an interest in the geothermal wells and which Rotoma No 1 hoped to get involved in the process.

“We have left the door open for them to come in but at this stage we will continue on with the process without them.”

Mr Gardiner said waste fluid from the power plant could be used to heat greenhouses and for kiln drying timber – something which would create new jobs in the region. “Obviously the first benefit [of the power station is that it] would add to the national power grid. It could supply enough energy to supply Rotorua,” he said.

As far as Rotoma is concerned, the money generated from this project we want to put into play, scholarships for our youngsters.”

Mr Gardiner said the trust had not yet negotiated with a power supplier to on-sell the power the plant would generate but he was confident it would not be difficult to find a company willing to come on board.

“Once we have resource consent the power suppliers will be knocking at our door to sell it for us. At this stage we are focused in on resource consent.”

Mr Gardiner said there were no plans to try and get cheaper power prices for consumers or iwi members.

Source: Daily Post

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