Small-scale hydro face of future

A private power scheme, sparked by a conversation in a paddock over the back of a ute, is generating enough power from more than 1,000 homes.

The Paul Wilson power scheme on Talla Burn on Beaumont Station  in Central Otago has been operating since November.

In officially opening it on Friday Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said small-scale schemes like this are the face of the future.

“The days of the big hydro scheme might be numbered – but don’t tell that to Contact, who have plans for Beaumont up the road,” Mr English said.

It was getting more difficult to build large dams and New Zealand had plenty of opportunities for smaller-scale operations, such as Talla Burn.

The two families behind Talla Burn had taken a considerable financial risk and it was fantastic to see a project like this come to fruition when such schemes were usually associated with big companies, he said.

“This scheme is a tribute to the practical wisdom and skills of the people of this part of the country.”

The length of time and expense of getting through the consent system adds huge costs to any power scheme. The bigger the scheme the more time and money it takes.

A media release from Pulse  which retails power generated from the scheme says:

The scheme . . .  20 km from Millers Flat, was the brainchild of Alan Hore, the farmer and Jeff Wilson, the sparky who saw the potential to harness the river’s power.

“The idea really came about from a conversation we had in a paddock over the back of a ute,” says Jeff Wilson. “It continued around the kitchen table with our families all involved and four years later we are opening the station. We’ve rattled a few cages to get our commercial investment going and plan to rattle them more to get a good power deal for consumers.

“We’d like a rethink of the Resource Management Act because there are ways to harness power without destroying the environment. This scheme has been developed and built by people who are part of this land. We respect and love it and will take care of it for our future generations,” he said. . .

The scheme will generate 2.4MW of electricity to supply Central Otago households with power at a price expected to be considerably lower than competitors.

“The Talla Burn scheme is an example of the tenacity of the little battlers who put their money and ingenuity where their mouth is to overcome commercial and regulatory obstacles. The Hore and Wilson families have built an environmentally friendly generation scheme that contributes to the national goal of increasing energy self sufficiency,” says Pulse Managing Director Dene Biddlecombe.

Alan and Jean Hore and Jeff and Sue Wilson who took the risk, spent their own money and  persevered in spite of many obstacles is to be commended.

The scheme is named after the Wilson’s son and project engineer who drowned while collecting water samples for the project.

5 Responses to Small-scale hydro face of future

  1. fredinthegrass says:

    A wonderful tribute to the tenacity of these folk. Alan showed us the project and talked – modestly – of it when we were fortunate to be able to visit Beaumont Station earlier this year. He was the most gracious host, and rightly proud of the achievements they are making on Beaumont.


  2. ploughboy says:

    and here would be a situation were if it was sold it would be wrong to get hit with a cgt


  3. gravedodger says:

    Pater, on returning from a sojourn in Europe in the 60s, came home lauding how Europeans were harnessing small water sources for little Hydro generating options.
    Makes sense but at what cost from overcoming those who would oppose everything just because they can.

    Very sad about Paul but what a memorial, sure beats an overpriced seat in a layby that will only attract graffiti and vandalism.


  4. murrayg1 says:

    Actually, Gravedodger, your typecasting of folk clouds your judgement.

    Yes, the planet is finite, and anyone who touts unfettered growth forever is either (as economist Kenneth Boulding said long ago) a madman or an economist.

    The current Govt has proven the inability to dislocate ‘wealth’ from ‘finite resources’, think about it. What of their proposals is not extractive on a one-off basis?

    But energy is needed, even in a permanently powering-down world, and the only energy which is no finite is solar. Hydro (before you start hollering) is just secondary solar, as is wind.

    I run my house 100% on micro-hydro, and think it’s a wonderful, low-impact way to go. Sure there are impacts with everything, but it’s at the lesser end by a country mile.

    One big question is; do those who would sell off energy, realise that it is the lifeblood without which nothing else happens? This is about attempting to put that lifeblood into certain hands, and not others. Begs the question – how long and hard will the new owners be able to defend, from folk who are geographically aligned with the generators?

    Also begs the bigger question – beyond peak energy, we’re looking at being beyond peak wealth-creation ability (think about it), so what will fiat finance, debt, usury look like? I was at a 550-person lecture last week, discussing just that implication. The young folk (there were perhaps 10 of us over 30) are well aware of where things are going.

    Yes, micro hydro is a/the way to go, but you have to acknowledge the ‘why’ of it, first.


  5. mort says:

    peak energy…. get a grip
    innovation creates technology that so far has solved all of our energy ‘crises’ like whale oil, coal, now oil, next step will be coal seam gas or LNG, nuclear with thorium is under tapped. What is BS is the arguments you people use to milk the rest of of our hard earned in the form of subsidies for inefficient health destroying tech like wind, wave and biofuel


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