State-owned electricity generator Mighty River Power has signed agreements for a new geothermal energy project near Rotorua.
The company has signed agreements with two Maori bodies, Okere Incorporation and Ruahine Kuharua Incorporation, to investigate development of geothermal power at the Taheke field, 20 kilometres north east of Rotorua
The agreement will enable initial exploration and a feasibility study of the geothermal resource and provide for long-term co-ownership of any subsequent developments.
The scheme follows similar joint ventures between Mighty River Power and Maori groups elsewhere on the volcanic plateau.
The company has been concentrating on increasing its use of geothermal energy to generate electricity.
Energy from that source is now at 50% of the level of the energy from its traditional source - the nine hydro-electric power stations on the Waikato River.