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Counties Energy completes significant infrastructure resilience project to ensure supply continuity for Auckland’s water

Counties Energy has announced today the completion of a major project that will play a critical role in ensuring the resilience of Auckland’s water supply. The $11.3m project to construct dedicated electricity infrastructure to supply Watercare’s Waikato Water Treatment Plant was completed this month.

Watercare construction delivery manager Alrick Sargent says the Waikato Water Treatment Plant plays a significant role in Auckland’s water supply.

“This treatment plant currently supplies about 20 percent of Auckland’s water – and we do rely on it more in the summer months when people are using more water.

“It’s a critical part of our wider water supply scheme, so having a stable and resilient power supply to the treatment plant is really important. Without power, we can’t treat any water from the Waikato River, and even short outages create problems for the treatment plant’s operation.

“As it is located in a rural area, the power supply feeding the plant was often affected by faults on the long overhead power lines, with anything from a complete outage to brief voltage disturbances that can affect our equipment on site.

“That’s why we’ve worked with Counties Energy on this extensive upgrade to ensure the treatment plant’s power supply is more stable and resilient.”

Counties Energy developed a solution to meet Watercare’s needs through an approach that ensures redundancy and resiliency of supply and improved power quality. The company has installed dedicated network for the plant, including a 40MVA transformer at its 110kV Tuakau Substation and a 7km underground 22kV cable from the newly constructed 110kV Pokeno Substation.

Both feeds can support the plant independently at any time from the two substations, providing a full back-up power supply. The solution also improves voltage stability. The upgrade also provides additional power capacity that will support future upgrades of the treatment plant to enable it to treat more water as Auckland’s population grows.

Counties Energy General Manager Commercial Andrew Toop says the consumer-owned lines company is highly experienced and fully committed to delivering essential services to a key piece of essential Watercare infrastructure. The infrastructure issues that New Zealand faced from Cyclone Gabrielle illustrates the need for utilities to work together to improve the resilience of critical public infrastructure as climate change drives more extreme weather events.

“As an electricity distributor with nearly 100 years-experience in working in our region on large network builds, we’re extremely proud to utilise our infrastructure and network expertise to supply a dedicated solution to benefit the entire Auckland region into the future. The new network ensures increased power capacity, reliability, resilience and power quality to Watercare’s Waikato Water Treatment Plant, guaranteeing a critical path in the journey of supplying a quality water supply to the nation’s largest city.”

In its investigation, Watercare considered options such as backup generators, a Transpower grid connection and batteries and identified Counties Energy’s dedicated network solution as the best option to guarantee a quality supply for this key piece of infrastructure.

Counties Energy is an industry leader in bringing new technology to deliver improved services to its customers.  The Pokeno Substation is an example of this, a finalist in the 2021 New Zealand Energy Awards for delivering high quality power to some of New Zealand’s most advanced export industries in the area.  Other developments have been its award-winning INDI platform that provides real-time information to customers and its deployment of smart meters to 99 percent of its network.

About Watercare

Watercare provides water and wastewater services to 1.7 people in the Auckland region. It is a council-controlled organisation, wholly owned by Auckland Council.

Watercare does not receive any funding from Auckland Council or the government, nor does it pay a dividend to Auckland Council.

All the money it receives from customers goes into operating, maintaining and expanding the networks of pipes, treatment plants, pump stations and other infrastructure that’s essential for providing its lifeline services.

About Counties Energy

Counties Energy is a multi-market energy services company in New Zealand. Its core business is in providing electricity distribution network services in the southern Auckland and northern Waikato regions, which it has done for nearly 100 years.

As a 100% consumer owned company, all shares in the company are held by the Counties Energy Trust on behalf of all local power consumers. Counties Energy receives power from the national grid at Bombay and Glenbrook and transports it to locally via substations and an extensive network of lines, cables, transformers and other equipment. They have a total asset base of $577m and revenue of $171m.

Counties Energy has a portfolio of investments in innovative energy solutions that contribute towards Aotearoa New Zealand’s decarbonisation goals and has developed an end-to-end e-mobility software platform and related mobile app – OpenLoop.

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