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NZ grower goes green with its own power station

"More than 60 percent of our operational expense can be attributed to electricity"

Greenfern Industries’ hydroelectric power station on the Waingongoro River in Taranaki has been given the seal of approval to generate power once again.

The go-ahead was given by the Taranaki Regional Council for the Normanby Power Station to start generating power again last week after passing the final inspection of items that were historically in breach of resource consent conditions held by the station's previous owner. The greenlight follows considerable investment by Greenfern to get it operating in general compliance with the resource consent conditions.

A medicinal cannabis company, Greenfern bought the power station in December last year following a successful crowdfunding campaign late last year. The weir-dam and power station were first commissioned in 1903 and was initially used to supply power to surrounding towns Hawera, Manaia and Eltham. It has been rebuilt twice since its inauguration.

“By purchasing the power station, which sits alongside our research facility, indoor growing operation and processing facility, we would be able to stand out from our competition because we will be able to access cost-price power – the highest overhead cost in a medicinal cannabis indoor growing operation,” managing director Dan Casey said.

“More than 60 percent of our operational expense can be attributed to electricity so being able to scale to meet demand is a significant advantage.

“While we’re excited about being able to produce high quality medicinal cannabis products at a more competitive price point, we’re also incredibly proud of being able to grow our medicinal plants in a more environmentally friendly way. Sustainability and taking care of the environment are non-negotiable pillars for Greenfern.”

When Greenfern took ownership of the power station it was not compliant.

“We’ve invested heavily in upgrading and modifying power station infrastructure and the technology that monitors the water intake and output,” Casey said.

“We’ve been working closely with the compliance and monitoring team at Taranaki Regional Council to achieve this milestone. They’ve been hugely supportive, and we’re really pleased to achieve this result through collaboration and cooperation over the past few months.”

Greenfern won’t need to use all the power the station generates so will sell the excess back to the national grid.

“It’s looking like it will be a dry winter in the South Island with record power demand, and with spot prices at record levels at the moment, this is another revenue stream for Greenfern.”

The company is considering whether it may further upgrade the power station’s generation capacity which would mean higher power output through a larger and more efficient turbine. No decision has been made. Greenfern will advise when the decision has been made later in the year.

“This is another positive step for Greenfern. We have had a very successful year with our white meat analogue chicken, the purchase of the power station, the crowdfunding campaign and hemp harvest in March.

“We have significant plans for the balance of the year we will keep the public and our shareholders up-to-date as matters develop.”


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