Smelter signs new power agreement

A deal has been signed that allows aluminium production to continue at Bluff’s Tiwai Point smelter.

Mayor Tim Shadbolt described the decision as a “brilliant outcome”, the Stuff website reported this afternoon.

Meridian Energy had signed a variation to the existing electricity agreement with owners New Zealand Aluminium Smelters. Contact Energy would also supply a portion of Tiwai’s electricity, as would Genesis Energy and other power providers, Stuff said.

The smelter is the largest consumer of electricity in the country, using 13 per cent of total power. It employs about 800 full-time workers, but also affects about 3,000 jobs in Southland.

NZ Aluminium Smelters chief executive Gretta Stephens said people were feeling very pleased that the plant had some security. The smelter had been an important part of the Southland economy for decades and employed generations of Southlanders, she said.