Kaikohe business people say a planned geothermal power expansion at Ngawha is an inspired project that will pull the town out of the doldrums.
The consumer-owned lines company Top Energy wants to treble its generating capacity by building two new geothermal power stations.
It is putting its case for resource consent to independent commissioners in Kerikeri this week.
President of the Kaikohe Business Association Steven Sangster said Top Energy's plan included an industrial park, and offered cheap, clean power that would attract new businesses to the north.
He said unemployment was running at 10 percent in Kaikohe, and the town deperately needed jobs.
The Maori guardians of Ngawha Springs are less enthusiastic: they're calling for a staged expansion and careful monitoring to make sure the new power stations do not damage the region's famous hot pools.