Cracks force natural gas power plant to shut down

NEW ZEALAND - The Otahuhu natural gas-fired power plant, owned by Contact Energy, New Zealand's biggest listed power company, has been closed for maintenance.

The New Zealand Herald reported that Contact Energy shuttered the 380 megawatt combined cycle facility two months ago after cracks were found in a generator. The power station uses the hot exhaust emissions from its gas-fired turbine to produce steam for more generation, but cracks in welds in the power station's heat recovery steam generator need to be repaired.

A Contact Energy spokesman said the company hopes to resume generation by the end of next month, saying of the shutdown, "It's not entirely uncommon — we've had cracks in welds before and given the time of the year we thought we'd fix it now.


Power use in New Zealand during January drops markedly, as it falls during the Southern Hemisphere's summer, although the increased use of heat pumps to cool homes has increased consumption on very hot summer days. The Contact Energy spokesman added that while the company could bring its 400 megawatt Taranaki combined cycle station online to cope with possible electrical shortages, "there's no doubt you'd prefer to have your plant available."


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