12 Mar 2004

Cook Islands atoll wants generators to replace solar power

2:46 pm on 12 March 2004

The 600 residents of the northern Cook Islands atoll of Pukapuka may get diesel generated power for the first time.

The islanders have approached the government and asked for diesel generators to be provided.

While it has called for a feasibility study, the CEO of the Office of the Minister of Outer Islands, Nandi Glassie, says the government is very supportive.

He says reliable diesel power on Pukapuka would help the storage of fish before it is sent to Rarotonga, so this would have national benefits.

However, environmental consultant, Tom Wichman, says the government shouldn't turn back to fossil fuels.

He says an upgraded solar power system could cope with the increased demand on Pukapuka.

And Mr Wichman says the costs of transporting diesel to the outer islands is a more expensive option.

"Whereas we upgrade the power generation in Pukapuka the cost will be very high to start off but the payback period will be very short. We compare it to diesel generator running 24 hours a day, seven days a week."