Last week the Ruawai site was blessed and named "Te Puna Mauri ō Omaru" by local hapu of te Uri o Hau. Neighbours, schools, local body councillors, media, and community members participated in the occasion.
“This blessing marks the start of a significant investment journey for Northpower, as we harness renewable energy capacity in our region for the long-term benefits of our community” says Andrew McLeod, Northpower’s Chief Executive.
Earlier this year Northpower secured the Ruawai site as the first step in its renewable strategy, to develop 100MW of renewable energy. This will power more than 25,000 homes across the Whangārei and Kaipara regions.
The name, Te Puna Mauri ō Omaru, means the energy source of ‘Omaru’ (safe haven) the original name of the whenua of this part of Ruawai, Kaipara.
Construction of the Ruawai site will commence in early 2024 and will be completed by December 2024. The initial works will include access ways and fencing. As New Zealand moves to decarbonise the economy. Northpower’s investment gives Northlanders an ownership stake in renewable energy assets and provides the benefits of locally produced power. Northpower contracting’s new division ”Future Energy” will manage the project, employing local companies to complete the work, building skills and capabilities in Northland.
Northland residents pay above average for their electricity compared to the average national price, partly because generation travels long distances from the South. Building generation locally will help reduce the transport costs and may over time keep electricity costs lower. Northpower’s investment gives Northlanders ownership of the generation so that the profits are shared locally through Northpower’s distribution payments.
This project, the first of its kind for Northpower as it looks to harness generation capability locally to improve the resilience and security of supply to the region. It is aligned with the company’s purpose benefitting the local community, looking after its customers, and taking a leading role in the decarbonisation of the region.
Mr McLeod says:
The site of this solar farm is connected to our organisational roots, for us it all began in the Kaipara in 1930. It feels good to be “bringing power home” as we start our solar journey in the Kaipara, recognising the foresight of the pioneers instrumental in bringing electricity to the region.”