Media Releases & News

Power providers connect to secure future electricity for Queenstown

03 April 2023
This week, power providers Transpower, Aurora Energy and PowerNet met with Queenstown Lakes District Council to announce joint investment to secure future electricity supply for Queenstown and the Wakatipu Basin.

Two new transformers will be installed at Transpower’s Frankton substation by winter 2025 along with upgrades to the high-voltage transmission lines from Cromwell that feed the region. The high-level estimated cost of these upgrades is $24-30m.

“It’s essential the power system can meet future demand for electricity in the Queenstown and Wakatipu region, which continues to grow. Transpower, Aurora Energy and PowerNet have been working closely on a variety of solutions to ensure this need is met and it’s great to be able to announce this investment decision today”, said Transpower General Manager Grid Development John Clarke.

The upgraded equipment will increase Frankton substation’s capacity by 35%, ensuring people in the Queenstown area can continue to depend on clean, renewable energy provided by the national grid.

Aurora Energy’s Chief Executive Richard Fletcher also welcomed the announcement. “The reality is that the population and economy in our region has grown and continues to grow. We all expect power to be there at the flick of a switch, and we want it to have been generated through renewable resources”, he said.

“The upgrades enable Queenstown to enhance its green tourism credentials by enabling electric vehicles and low carbon heating, as well as reduce the potential threat to our tourism industry that could be the result of significant unplanned power outages.”

PowerNet’s Chief Executive Jason Franklin also hailed the decision, describing the additional resilience benefit the works will include. “Transpower has also agreed to undertake flood mitigation work at Frankton substation during the transformer installation.

Given the number of recent weather-related events, I think we’d all agree that reducing flood risk and increasing resilience is a priority, given our dependence on this critical site.”

The additional flood resilience measures will be undertaken during the transformer installation works, bringing Frankton substation up to Transpower’s 1-in-450-year-flood standard, while discussions begin in earnest about the Queenstown Lakes region’s long-term electricity supply and resilience.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Glyn Lewers welcomed this important first step in meeting the projected growth in the district’s demand.

“This investment will provide surety of capacity through the traditional supply model. The next phase will be to focus on how we ensure resilience and sufficient supply to meet our decarbonisation objectives. These include the goal of zero carbon 2030 set out in the Queenstown Lakes Regenerative Tourism Plan ‘Travel to a thriving future’. We can all sleep a little easier and now need to keep up the momentum by working together to understand all potential opportunities for renewable energy generation in the district. This will ensure we electrify our economy as much as possible and remain resilient through any emergency situation.”

The Cromwell-Frankton transmission line is subject to regular checks and condition assessment surveys, ensuring it remains a highly reliable part of Transpower’s network. Adding resilience to the region’s electricity supply, whether from new lines into the Wakatipu Basin or other local electricity options, will take time to identify, consent and build, given the strict environmental controls protecting the outstanding landscapes in the region.

Transpower’s Mr Clarke added, “We’re keeping a close eye on the longer-term electricity needs of the region.

“The upgrades announced today will also increase the capacity of the line and the associated work required will add some additional resilience to this line route. Other longer-term solutions will be needed in the future.

“From a grid supply perspective, we expect to have sufficient margin and options to meet demand until the work we announced today is completed in mid-2025. New infrastructure will ultimately be required both for further power capacity increases and improved resilience as we all become more and more reliant on electricity in the drive to decarbonise our economy. We will continue to talk with the Council, Aurora Energy and PowerNet, and we will be consulting with the community as and when our future plans begin to take shape.”

Construction on-site is expected to start later in 2023 and the project is expected to be commissioned and in service by winter 2025.


For further information please contact:

Transpower – Trudy Shannon, Senior Corporate Communications Advisor, 021 835 374 or [email protected] 

Aurora Energy– Lisa Gloag, Customer and Engagement Manager, 021 185 4988 or [email protected] 

PowerNet – Kathryn McCoy, Communication Co-ordinator, 027 321 4576 or [email protected]