Vanuatu Officials To Seek New Zealand Geothermal Developer

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Efate landowners have approved government plan for power plant

By Glenda Shing

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 3, 2013) – A delegation to be led by Minister Ralph Regenvanu and the executive of the Marakinavata Council of Chiefs of North East Efate will leave Vanuatu for New Zealand on July 14.

According to Chairman of Marakinavata Council of Chiefs, Paramount Chief Kennedy Kalfau Tapangtamatewia, the tour to New Zealand is purposely to find and negotiate with a suitable geothermal company to work on the geothermal plant on Takara, North East of Efate.

"Custom landowners of where the geothermal site is located have approved for the project to kick off, so the chief representatives of each villages in North Efate will accompany the Minister responsible for Energy to make a visibility visit to New Zealand," the Chairman of North East Efate Council of Chiefs said.

KuTH Energy, an Australian geothermal company endorsed the nearly US$100 million geothermal project in Vanuatu, however, after several visits to the project site, the site was disputed by several locals who claimed to be land owners, so the project was stopped.

Meanwhile, KuTH Energy’s commitment to work on the project came a little bit late, nearing to the end of its contract, according to Chief Kalfau. "When KuTH Energy was given the green light to begin the project, their contract expired, that is why we will be going to New Zealand to negotiate for another geothermal company to work on the plant," Chief Kalfau confirmed.

The paramount chief added, "As a chairman of Marakinavata and a custom landowner of geothermal site, we all want electricity to come to our area, and it’s about time people understand that the completing of the project will replace expensive electricity using fuel, and will be benefitting everyone."

The delegation will leave on July 14 and return on July 21.

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