A project bringing the Far North close to generating most of its own electricity needs has reached another milestone with work under way to hook up the new power station to the local grid.
Top Energy subsidiary Ngāwhā Generation is close to completing the expansion of its geothermal power station at Ngāwhā, 5km east of Kaikohe.
The existing station's 25MW of power will be boosted by another 32MW when the new plant starts operating later this year.
However, the extra power means transmission line capacity between Ngāwhā and the Kaikohe substation also needs to be beefed up.
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All power poles along the route have been erected and work is under way to string them with 110kV power lines.
The tension stringing, which started last week and is expected to take a month, is being done by helicopter. Network Waitaki is carrying out the challenging task on behalf of Top Energy.
If all goes to plan work on the line and substations will be complete by mid-August with the new power station expected to be commissioned ahead of schedule in October.
Subject to consents and monitoring the company plans another 32MW expansion in 2023.
Combined the two new plants will cost about $320 million.
From next year the Far North is expected to draw power from the national grid only during peak usage or about 5 per cent of the time. From 2026 the Far North could be a power exporter.