Lines stretching across the Otago Harbour from Portobello to Port Chalmers have been removed, and three of the six lattice towers have been taken down, with the remainder due to come down next week.
The towers date back to 1957 and have been replaced with three submarine cables on the seabed, which will carry more electricity to this growing area of Dunedin than the lines had capacity for.
Aurora Energy Chief Executive Dr Richard Fletcher said the submarine cables had benefits to the community and environment, as well as being the most cost-effective option.
“It’s not often that an infrastructure project like this ticks all the boxes, however this work has positive environmental outcomes, community outcomes and business outcomes,” he said.
“Removing the overhead lines not only improves how the skyline looks, which is good for both those who live here and for tourists once the cruise ships return, but it makes it safer for the sea birds who no longer have lines to avoid when flying. It also improves access to the harbour and city wharves for shipping,” he said.
“A resident in Port Chalmers had a tower removed from his garden last Friday that he had nick-named his ‘ugly friend’ and Clive Matthewson, the homeowner, made cups of tea and cheese rolls to thank everyone involved in the removal,” said Dr Fletcher. “We’re pleased Clive now has extra garden space.”
The tallest of the six towers, at 56m, was removed from Portobello by helicopter on Saturday. It was taken down in pieces via a 70-foot longline below the helicopter. The same method will be used to remove the remaining towers on Goat Island Rakiriri and Quarantine Island Kamau Taurua,
“The helicopter pilot said the hardest part of the operation is staying steady while each section of the tower is attached the line, and it requires 100% concentration,” Dr Fletcher said. “I’d like to thank HeliOtago and our other contractors, Seaworks, Unison and ElectroNet, for their outstanding work on this project.”
Dr Fletcher said Aurora Energy worked in partnership with local iwi, the wider harbour community, Quarantine Island Kamau Taurua, Port Otago and the University of Otago’s Marine Studies Centre when planning this project, and received widespread support. Once the lattice towers have been removed, Aurora Energy will work with the community to replant the areas with native plants.
The Harbour Crossing Project has gone from conception to commissioning in one year. It started in October 2020 and is on schedule to be completed by October this year. The project is predicted to come in under the $6.3m budget.
While the Otago Harbour Crossing is a unique project, Aurora Energy is undertaking a number of projects across the network in Dunedin, Central Otago, Queenstown and Wanaka to improve the safety and reliability of electricity supply to customers. Dr Fletcher said the same innovative approach is being taken with all Aurora Energy projects.
Aurora Energy is New Zealand’s seventh largest electricity network by customer connections, supplying electricity to 91,000 homes, farms and businesses in Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes. Aurora Energy Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dunedin City Holdings Limited, owned by the Dunedin City Council.