Frankton Upgrade Project  

Last updated: 18 Jan 2024


What we're doing 

We need to continually operate, maintain and develop New Zealand's transmission network - the National Grid - to ensure we meet the ongoing electricity needs of New Zealanders. 

As part of our work to facilitate New Zealand's move to a zero-carbon economy, we are installing new transformers at our Frankton Substation to increase available power supply to Queenstown, Arrowtown and the surrounding areas.  

We’ll also upgrade our line and towers to increase the power that can flow to Frankton from Cromwell, ensuring this part of our network remains highly reliable under increased power transfers.  

While this work is happening, we’ll also introduce flood risk mitigations at our Frankton site, which has a vulnerability to rainfall run-off from the small hill above it. This will improve the flood resilience to an acceptable standard for a site of this importance. 

Read our joint media release announcing the project with Aurora Energy and PowerNet.

Why we're doing it 

Our Whakamana i te Mauri Hiko work has underlined the significant amount increase in electricity use that we can anticipate as Aotearoa transitions to meet New Zealand's zero-carbon future by 2050. We all expect power to be there at the flick of a switch, and we want it to be generated through renewable resources.  

These upgrades will enable the region to continue its path towards electrification, helping provide supply for new uses such as electric vehicles and low carbon heating as well as supporting continued economic development and regional growth. The upgrades also reduce the potential threat to the local tourism industry that could be the result of significant unplanned power outages.  

From a grid supply perspective, we have sufficient margin and options to meet demand until this project work is completed in mid-2025. New infrastructure will ultimately be required both for further power capacity increases and improved resilience. We will be continuing to talk with Queenstown Lakes District Council, Aurora Energy and PowerNet, and we will be consulting with the community as and when our future plans begin to take shape. 

More Information 

Update: January 2024

Since the announcement of investment in upgrades at Frankton, we have made good progress and are on track for the transformer upgrade project completion in mid-2025 as planned.

Preliminary designs have been finalized, and the new transformers and equipment required have been ordered.

In the last week of January, our Service Provider Omexom along with civil contractor Martin Civil will begin pre-enabling works to extend the switchyard and widen the entrance to our substation on Frankton-Ladies Mile Highway. The changes to the entrance will allow the larger equipment to be brought on site and provide a better and safer entrance and exit for vehicles. The entrance improvements have been approved and consented by New Zealand Transport Authority Waka Kotahi and Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Work continues outside the switchyard also, with Aurora Energy relocating cables to provide space for the new transformer foundations that will be situated inside the switchyard.  

Our work to upgrade the line from Cromwell to Frankton substation involves increasing the operating temperature of the lines, enabling us to bring more power to the Wakatipu Basin on our existing circuit. Our solution study report design considers five temperature options, and this will be completed in early 2023. Following that, we will select an option and begin planning to deliver this work. 

Picture of Frankton substation with Remarkables Range in background