A new transformer on its way to the Clyde Dam this month will carry a proud message when it and other replacements are installed.

A programme to replace the four operating transformers and one spare inside New Zealand’s third-largest hydro- electric dam’s powerhouse has begun and when complete will represent the rainbow› coloured pride flag.

The first transformer, coloured bright-red, is scheduled to arrive next month after a long process marred by Covid-19 disruptions.

Contact Energy projects manager Kirk Pritchard explained the reasoning for the eventual adoption of the pride flag.

‘‘As a Rainbow Tick accredited employer the team based at Clyde wanted to make a bold statement to that fact that we embrace diversity and thought this would be more impactful and enduring than a flag up a pole.

‘‘So each of the transformers, of which there will be five, will be painted in an individual colour of the rainbow pride flag.’’

Consideration was still being given to how to capture the sixth colour of the flag, he said.

‘‘The dam itself was considered but that’s a lot of paint.’’

The opportunity came after an inspection in December 2020 found the condition of the four transformers was poor and it was no longer safe to continue operating Unit 4.

The spare was also unusable.

Due to the safety risk, the Unit 4 transformer was shut down and had not operated since.

The other units were assessed as safe but would be replaced as a precaution over the next one-to-three years.

The need for replacements had been unexpected, Mr Pritchard said.

‘‘There are some transformers at Roxburgh that are 60-years-old.

‘‘We expected the Clyde four to last around 40 years, so having to dispose of them 10 years earlier than expected was a surprise.’’

The original transformers had been constructed in New Zealand at the same time as the dam in the 1980s but the country no longer had that capability and that meant looking offshore.

In with the new . . . The new transformer in situ at its South Korean manufacturer before being shipped to New Zealand. PHOTO: CONTACT ENERGY

The tender contract was awarded to Hyosung Heavy Industries in South Korea last June and design was completed in October, he said.

Manufacturing was made difficult due to borders being closed and companies in South Korea oversaw that on Contact’s behalf.

Testing had to be undertaken remotely via video conference.

‘‘Typically we would have our engineers attend this in person.’’

Shipping had not been straightforward either.

Manufacturing and shipping delays had meant the arrival date, originally planned for March, would now be this month.