Case study: Timaru District Council - Waste Water Treatment Plant


Grant Hall is the Drainage and Water Manager for Timaru District Council.

“We first heard about the Programme when we read about it in the newspaper. We hadn’t been involved in anything like this before, but it was easy to see the value for us. We have to run our generator on a frequent basis to make sure it’s always ready, and with this scheme we actually get paid to do this – so it’s really good for us.

“We don’t use the App, so we rely on email. In the morning if there is a request, an email pops up and if we are available to run the generator in the period when the grid requires power, I respond. During the day we always have people on site, monitoring the plant, so it’s almost always easy to manage it.

The flick of a switch

“We have an automatic changeover system in place, so it’s simply a matter of flicking a switch. Anyone can do it, it doesn’t require a technical expert. It doesn’t affect the operation of the plant, it’s very straightforward. If the generator were to fail for any reason, it will switch back to mains power automatically at any time – it’s not a case of being without power.

“Participating in the programme has helped us understand and investigate how we could also use our generator to smooth the peaks in our own energy use, not just contribute to the National Grid’s demand profile. Our electricity tariff is based on our maximum demand, so if we can smooth those high demand peaks it could save us money overall.

“Because we’re in the Demand Response Programme, we’re actually using the generator more often, which means we are really familiar with the process now and that knowledge is shared across the team. It’s a good thing.

Demonstrating benefits

“We also shared our experience with the rest of the Council a couple of weeks ago – other departments also have generators for various purposes. Everybody was quite interested in our experience and how we’ve demonstrated the benefits of participating. It’s great to be able to extract value for our business out of essential assets that would otherwise be not producing anything.

“One thing that probably helps us to participate so seamlessly is the automatic process that we have to run the generator – it would probably be a little more difficult if we ran a manual process. Regardless, it’s a good practice to keep your emergency generator ready at any time and many businesses could use the Demand Response Programme to their advantage as we have.”

Quintin Tahau, Demand Response Manager for Transpower, said: “Timaru District Council really saw an opportunity to make the programme work for them and have taken it with both hands. Peter and his team have leveraged the opportunity to add resilience and a revenue stream to their own business while at the same time delivering value back to their region, which is a great achievement.”