Fraser and Matiri rivers set to generate more power for the local regions......

05 February 2018

The Fraser River has a long association with power generation and irrigation and this valuable resource is soon to be sending even more energy back into the community as Pioneer Energy gets ready to begin their latest hydro project.

In the 1980s, the potential was identified for further hydro generation on the river, upstream of the Fraser Dam. In 2015 Pioneer Energy obtained the necessary consents to construct a new scheme upstream of the Fraser Dam. The natural ‘fall’ of the river upstream of the Fraser Dam creates potential for high energy generation. It will be a ‘run of river’ scheme and will be entirely dependent on natural inflows.

The scheme’s powerhouse will be three kilometres upstream of the Fraser Dam, near where the inflow from Rough Creek joins the Fraser and the water intake is a further three and a half kilometres up river from this. .

The power scheme will be located on Earnscleugh Station, and will be largely unseen with most of the three and a half kilometres of pipeline buried.

Due to the altitude and topography of the area, the construction is unable to take place during the winter but some of the track construction and upgrades will begin in February. The main construction of the intake, powerhouse and pipeline is scheduled to start in September 2018.

Part of the scheme will include the upgrading of the existing four-wheel drive track, up to the head of the Fraser Dam, which provides access to the Shek Harn walking track, and the walking/mountain-bike track known as Prospect Hill. A new access track will be installed from the head of the Fraser Dam on privately-owned land following the true right of the Fraser River. It will be located to avoid any impact on the river, and to stay clear of the many historic mining remnants along the banks of the Fraser River.

The work will be carried out using local contractors where practical, and the benefits will also flow back into the region via Pioneer Energy’s owner, the Central Lakes Trust.

The Upper Fraser is expected to generate approximately 30 GWh of power annually (enough to supply around 4000 households) and should be supplying the local region with power by March 2019.

Simultaneously and similarly scaled to the Upper Fraser project, the development of the Matiri Hydro scheme in the Tasman district has also been approved for construction.  The Matiri scheme will add approximately 28 GWh into the Murchinson area by October 2019.

Once commissioned, Pioneer Energy will sell these schemes to one of their joint-venture partnerships, the Southern Generation Limited Partnership. The Upper Fraser and Matiri schemes will join SGLP’s current stable of two South Island wind farms and the North Island’s Aniwhenua hydro-scheme. The Southern Generation Partnership is a 50/50 partnership between Pioneer Energy and the Roaring Forties, with the Roaring Forties shareholding equally shared between Electricity Invercargill and The Power Company.