Powerco is taking a leaf out of the alternative lifestylers' hand book and going off grid to service remote customers.
Described as a cutting edge unit, it's called Base Power; comprised of solar panels batteries and a diesel powered generator.
Base Power is an all-in-one system that generates renewable electricity from solar panels for homes, work places, small shearing sheds, dairy farms where it supplements cowshed supply, and the likes of communication towers and back-country huts.
Excess energy is stored in batteries, with a diesel generator providing back-up.
Powerco Electricity Commercial Manager Eric Pellicer says Base Power offers peace of mind to some of the company's most remote customers.
“We know power cuts are disruptive for people, and we know some remote rural areas are prone to repeated and prolonged power cuts,” says Eric.
“We see Base Power as a way to give our most remote customers a reliable power supply no matter the conditions, without having to rely solely on traditional power poles and lines.”
The new units are likely to be installed on remote properties in Taranaki, Manawatu, Wairarapa, Waikato and Coromandel.
The new Base Power units are being constructed at a rate of two a month by Marton-based company, The Downs Group.
After last month's storms caused massive damage to power poles and lines in the Central Plateau, Powerco provided five Base Power units to remote customers, giving them an uninterrupted electricity supply.
Powerco may provide Base Power units to some of its remote, rural customers. Base Power will be an alternative to electricity supply from the national grid, where the cost to upgrade the network and improve supply is not cost effective.
Powerco initially approved the supply of 20 new units following a successful six-year Base Power trial in nine locations.
The new units have been redesigned with high-tech specifications and to allow transport by helicopter to locations that are unreachable by road.
Base Power is easy to run and maintain – typically, units only require a top-up of diesel from time-to-time.
Most Base Power units supply 230 volts at 50 Hz, which is the same as the national grid. This allows users to continue their lives normally.
Powerco is prioritising its own customers but will make some Base Power units available to outside clients, such as other lines companies.