The TrustPower machine rumbled into Outram yesterday, highlighting details of the proposed Mahinerangi wind farm and answering locals’ questions.
And it seemed Tony Penny, of Traffic Design Group, addressed the most contentious issue early. He explained the trucks destined to rumble through Outram’s main street would be manoeuvrable enough to ensure the corner pub would not be damaged.
That statement prompted appreciative murmurs from the audience.
TrustPower staff outnumbered residents by 20 to 16 and fielded none of the heated questions which came from Lee Stream locals the previous night.
Brian Doherty, a local contractor, asked if fire or snow would harm the turbines, as both were likely in the wind-farm area.
TrustPower major construction manager Deion Campbell said the turbines were designed to “stand up in places like Iceland”, so snow was not an issue. And fire would only damage the paint of the towers.
Mr Doherty also had concerns smaller ratepayer-funded roads would be damaged by wind-farm traffic, with the cost falling on ratepayers.
Mr Campbell said the council would retain its usual roading budget and any further spending needed to keep roads in acceptable condition would be reimbursed by TrustPower.
He said debt incurred building the $400 million wind farm would take 16 years to repay, and the farm would make a 7% return on assets, and a 9% return on shareholders funds.
The turbines had a life of approximately 25 years, after which time there was “a good possibility we would be re-powering with new technology”.
However, there wasn’t money to be freely thrown around said
TrustPower community relations manager Graeme Purches told the meeting the company would not indulge in offering “sweeteners” to silence local opponents of the project.
“That’s not the way we do business. If we’re putting lines through someone’s property, then we compensate them that’s fine, but that’s all.”
TrustPower environmental manager Gavin Kemble said Otago people had given Trust-Power a fair hearing.
“We’ve always enjoyed working in Otago. We find the people hold their opinions and they express those opinions, but there’s not a lot of personality that gets in the way.”
Outram farmer Ian Scott (56) agreed at last night’s meeting.
“They are being reasonably honest about things they’re not disguising things.”
While the panel of TrustPowerengaged experts heavily endorsed the wind farm, Mr Campbell said their views were fair and independent.
“We’ve gone to them and said we can put turbines all over this area. They’ve come back and told us where we can’t. That’s why we’ve refined this project so much.”
Mr Doherty said the meeting was successful as far as he was concerned his questions had been adequately answered.
By Craig Borley
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