Small-scale hydro face of future

July 31, 2011

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.


%d bloggers like this: