Power “never turns off” for central North Island farmer

Power cuts are a thing of the past for central North Island farmer Cameron Bunn.

When the power goes out for others, they’re quick to ask Cameron if he’s got electricity.

“I say, ‘yep, my power never turns off’.”

That’s because the Bunns have Base Power, the standalone power system (SAPS) that uses the sun to generate electricity. Excess energy is stored in batteries, with a backup generator included for times of low light or high load.

Base Power means the power stays on at the Bunn’s 650 hectare Mangaweka sheep and beef farm – no matter the weather.

It was a severe weather event in July 2017 that saw Cameron, his wife Elisabeth and two young children switch from traditional electricity lines supply to two Base Power units.

In what at the time was dubbed the worst snowstorm to hit the Central Plateau in 15 years, thousands of people were left without electricity, with power poles and lines downed for kilometres.

“The snow took out all our power lines. Our power was out for six weeks. It took basically a week for the snow to melt enough for us to cut our way out to the main road, which is 10km away on a windy road.

“Everything becomes quite challenging without power. Your freezers go off and all your meat goes off,” Cameron says.

“With no power, we don’t have any water because it’s all pumped water. Also, with no power, there are no electric fences and there’s no way of keeping the animals behind the fence.”

Cameron admits that when electricity distribution company Powerco offered him Base Power units over reinstating the remote overhead electricity lines that were prone to weather damage, resulting in power cuts, he was sceptical.

“It’s been really good since we’ve had Base Power – really positive. I’m a bit surprised because I was pretty anti the whole situation at the start.

“We’ve got two units. They power my wool shed, my house, our rental home down the road, our reticulated water pump for our farm, and our other wool shed.”

The Bunn’s electricity bill has never looked so good either. With Base Power, they pay a ‘lines’ fee to Powerco, the same as they would if they still had overhead power lines, plus diesel to top up the generator.

“You don’t need to put much diesel in them either. From December 2018 to May 2019, we put 20 litres of diesel in,” Cameron says.

The Bunns are impressed with the reliability of the Base Power units too.

“They’re an asset to my farm. I can say I’ve got sustainable power.”

For more of the Bunn’s story, watch their video here.

Designed by New Zealand’s second largest electricity utility, Powerco, Base Power has been developed and tested by skilled research and development engineers, and proven to offer a reliable and safe power supply.

Above: Elisabeth and Cameron Bunn in the wool shed of their Mangaweka property.

Above: Mangaweka farmer Cameron Bunn with this Base Power unit (left), generator (right) and solar panels (back).

Above: Solar panels on the Bunn property, which provides renewable energy for Base Power.