Energy Minister joins ‘switched on’ celebrations

  • Simon Bridges
Energy and Resources

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges today joined in celebrations in Reefton to mark the town switching on the lights 125 years ago.

“The story of electricity generation on the West Coast deserves celebrating because Reefton was the first town in the Southern Hemisphere to have a public electricity supply,” said Mr Bridges.

“Just a few years after Thomas Edison’s company was lighting the streets of New York, the Reefton hydro-electric power station was supplying electricity directly into local homes. This was an amazing achievement.

“From those humble beginnings, New Zealand’s electricity transmission network has grown into a national grid of over 12,000 kilometres of lines and more than 170 substations,” Mr Bridges says.

Mr Bridges congratulated the Reefton Powerhouse Charitable Trust on its planned local tourist attraction, the Reefton Powerhouse Project.

“Electricity is something we take for granted in our lives. This certainly wasn’t the case 125 years ago and I’m sure visitors to Reefton will enjoy exploring historic sites and learning more about the town’s pivotal role in the development of hydro power.”