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A series of meetings with stakeholders and community groups concluded last week in the Teviot Valley, as investigations into pumped hydro storage at Lake Onslow continue.

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) manager energy projects and programmes Andrew Miller said two members of the NZ Battery Project team were in the valley from Wednesday and held final meetings on Friday.

The NZ Battery Project is looking at Lake Onslow compared with other energy storage solutions to New Zealand’s dry-year electricity problem.

Early estimates anticipate a cost of about $4billion but the feasibility study, expected to wrap up in May next year, would provide greater certainty about costs.

Mr Millar said the two members of the project team the principal policy adviser and the senior stakeholder and engagement adviser scheduled about 10 meetings with landowners, local government representatives and community groups throughout the Teviot Valley.

The meetings with landowners were the most important as they would be the most affected by the potential Lake Onslow pumped hydro option, he said.

There were two key strands of the investigation.

The first looked at cultural, environmental, recreational, landscape and conservation values of the lake and surrounding areas, while the second focused on engineering, geotechnical and environmental investigation.

MBIE’s latest NZ Battery Project E-news said in May, the Department of Conservation undertook some initial freshwater fish values assessments and National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research staff assessed possible locations for a meteorological station and buoy in the lake.

That work was to understand the ecology of the lake and the fishery, consider changes in climate, expanding of the lake and fluctuating lake levels.

Staff from the Cawthron Institute also began ecological assessments of the lake and tributaries.

Preliminary work was completed before winter and was likely to resume in spring.

Meanwhile, a landscape architect had nearly completed a landscape values assessment.

Last month, tenders were called for engineering, geotechnical and environmental work to identify, investigate and design the key aspects of the scheme.

The study would help in understanding the feasibility, possible design and configuration options for pumped hydro at Lake Onslow, and give clearer insight into the cost, construction timeline and potential risks.

Tender responses were being evaluated and the successful supplier was expected to be appointed this month.