Hari Hari power scheme opened

By Janna Sherman

About 100 people yesterday marked the official opening of the rebuilt Amethyst River power scheme, near Hari Hari, securing the electricity supply for South Westland.
Energy Minister Simon Bridges was given the opening honours — igniting the turbine and unveiling a plaque to the new powerhouse, named after long-serving Westpower board member Richard Cornelius.
The minister congratulated Westpower and its partners, Hari Hari Hydro Ltd, for the successful commissioning of the “clean and green” hydro-scheme, which unlike others on the West Coast attracted no opposition at all. ‘’This is a tremendous future asset and piece of infrastructure on the West Coast in terms of security of supply and self-sufficiency, especially for South Westland,” Mr Bridges said.
The 7.7MW scheme generates enough electricity for about 4000 homes, or the entire South Westland load.
Westpower chairman Mike Newcombe thanked everyone involved, especially the community.
“A feature of the development of Amethyst has been the support of the local community which was crucial to getting development under way.”
After eight years of planning and construction it was now the West Coast’s to enjoy, Mr Newcombe said.
The scheme was commissioned in June, heralding a return to generation after the forced sale of the Westpower hydro schemes to Trustpower during the electricity reforms of 1999.
The new scheme is built close to the site of an earlier and smaller power plant, which opened in 1954 and was shut down by Westpower in the late 1980s.
Mr Newcombe said the previous last scheme was capable of generating 255KW, whereas the new one could generate 30 times that, with a total output of 7.7KW from the same water supply. An interpretation panel detailing the history of the site, which runs off a tributary of the Wanganui River, has been installed behind the new powerhouse.