One project I recently visited in Northland shows what can be done when the door is opened to bespoke and community-focused funding arrangements.
After three years of construction, community trust-owned power company Top Energy has brought online a new geothermal power station, the result of a major expansion lead financed by ANZ.
The expansion of its geothermal power generation at Ngāwhā now makes the Far North district self-sufficient in terms of electricity, and all of it now comes from a renewable source.
Before the station was commissioned, most of the region’s power supply was imported from further down the North Island, resulting in higher costs for consumers.
Now, with all its electricity produced locally, Top Energy is able to export it to the rest of the country, generating savings and value to the local community.
ANZ played a pivotal role by financing the project in a way that meant the company didn’t need to raise additional equity, ensuring it remained 100% owned by the Top Energy Consumer Trust – which represents the power consumers of Northland.
In a region where power prices are among the highest in the country, the project is a key part of the Trust’s aim to support economic growth and, over time, provide savings to consumers through reduced wholesale pricing of electricity.
It’s already making a difference. Top Energy has been able to reduce its line prices by 15% and has been able to increase the discount offered to the consumers by 25% directly due to the new power station.
This project is a great example of how smart investment can be mobilised to build and future-proof key infrastructure that brings tangible long-term benefits to New Zealand communities.