Teaching staff were informed earlier this week about the unusually large bill, with a view to keeping electricity usage down wherever possible.
However, Ministry of Education head Danielle Cochrane was not concerned about the extraordinary expense, saying the increased cost of power at Tereora College was “an anticipated expense due to the running cost of the two new buildings”.
Cochrane said the ministry, in collaboration with the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC), was looking at “a range of measures” to reduce future power costs at Tereora College.
She added the school was aware of the increased running costs and was “operating responsibly and conservatively”.
The $5000 power bill will not be paid out of the Tereora College operating budget and will instead be met by Ministry of Education operational funds, so as not to take away from any learning programmes at the school. “These costs have been anticipated since the beginning of the project,” said Cochrane.
“A lot of work went into ensuring efficiencies through the design process but there are circumstances outside of our control with regards to the cost of power.” The new Tereora College buildings, a technology centre and student research/administration building, were funded by $11.7 million pledged by then New Zealand prime minister John Key in 2015. The Cook Islands government contributed a further $3 million to the project.
“The facilities that we want to provide for our learners are our upmost priority and we are proud to be able to extend their learning opportunities further through these new and innovative learning spaces,” said Cochrane.
“Both the Ministry and Tereora College are excited about the learning and teaching that is now taking place in these buildings.
Since the official opening and handover, I have visited the school on a number of occasions and have been pleased to see the facilities being well utilised by students and staff.”
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern officially opened the two new Tereora College buildings last Thursday, watched by local and New Zealand dignitaries, as well as the college’s students.
The opening of the buildings completed stage one of the four-stage Tereora Construction project.