Timaru businesses support upgrade

Timaru business leaders have commended and congratulated electricity supply company Alpine Energy for its "timely foresight and confidence" in the business sector by upgrading the city's power supply capacity.

Electricity upgrade earns support from Timaru businesses

POWER2TIMARU Logo Timaru business leaders have commended and congratulated electricity supply company Alpine Energy for its "timely foresight and confidence" in the business sector by upgrading the city's power supply capacity. The upgrade, involving the laying of more than36km of cabling lifting capacity from 11 kV to 33 kV, was one South Canterbury's most extensive electrical supply improvements the company had ever undertaken.

The work began at the start of the year and was completed in June, despite disruption by the Canterbury earthquakes and Alpine Energy supplying staff and equipment to the quake-hit Christchurch region.

Trenches were cut along city roadways sector-by-sector and traversed the area from Transpower's Old North Road sub-station to a new sub-station next to Repco in Heaton Street.

Alpine Energy Ltd chief executive Andrew Tombs said the $10 million project was planned three years out when the company foresaw the potential energy needs of a revitalised central and southern business landscape.

But it could not have predicted the value of the upgrade in the aftermath of the devastating Canterbury earthquakes and the continuing aftershocks with many Christchurch businesses now planning to set up in South Canterbury. The Christchurch influx adds to potential demand from local business expansion and new big-budget enterprises such as Holcim's cement works at Weston. Holcim has indicated its preferred port in its transport network is Timaru.

"We called this $10 million upgrade 'Power to Timaru' and that's just what we have now provided for when the needs arise," Mr Tombs said.

Local exporter Allan Booth, whose Starwood factory manufactures wood products for domestic and international markets said Alpine Energy's electricity supply upgrade across the city was a "pleasing investment in the future – now". "Although power is only one of the key ingredients to attract potential companies to the district, this may encourage other related service providers to think the same way," Mr Booth said.

"We have an abundance of locally-produced high-quality commodities, where the best place to process them is right here in South Canterbury. Let's encourage that." Major engineering company Parr and Co on Hayes Street, in the Port area, is in the area targeted by Alpine Energy for the 33 kV upgrade.

Managing-director and Timaru District Councillor Damon Odey said the forward-thinking project was "fantastic news" for the entire Timaru area.

"We are poised for some major developments and growth in our area, not to mention the impact of some businesses relocating from Christchurch," Mr Odey said. "This type of forward thinking and planning is part of our region's strategic growth. "Thanks to Alpine for taking the initiative to future-proof our power supplies. Timaru should be set to welcome any new opportunities and growth," he said.

Mr Tombs said the project had been completed despite some significant setbacks caused by the Christchurch earthquake and some inclement weather. Alpine Energy reassigned some staff and infrastructure to Orion power company in Christchurch to help that city recover from the disastrous earthquake. Among equipment reassigned to Christchurch was the very switchboard originally purchased for the 33kV project.

"That we have been able to complete our upgrade almost on time and under budget in these circumstances has been due in part to the wonderful co-operation we have received from the residents of Timaru, some of whom have had to put up with restricted access to their properties and detours and road closures in their neighbourhoods," Mr Tombs said. "Despite some handicaps, we have achieved what history will show as a major step forward for our community. To those who assisted, our grateful thanks."