MainPower has confirmed it plans to build a wind farm on Mt Cass, about six kilometres east of Waipara in North Canterbury.
Managing Director Allan Berge said the project had the potential to provide significant benefit to the region, including generating enough renewable energy to power the Hurunui district.
Berge said MainPower had been investigating wind generation opportunities in the region for several years, and the Mt Cass site was the most promising it had looked at. It has undertaken extensive feasibility studies on the project over the last year.
“It’s a local project conceived and developed by a local company and will contribute some real benefits to the region,” Berge said in a statement.
Berge said that despite renewable energy resources being available in the area, there is currently no local generation. He said energy consumption in the region is growing at twice the national rate, putting the future security of supply at risk.
He says the wind farm is seen as a step towards energy self sufficiency for the region.
The wind farm will be built on a three kilometre ridge running north east from the summit of Mt Cass and will also include an access road.
MainPower secured legal rights to investigate and develop a wind farm on the Mt Cass property almost 10 years ago. Depending on the final size of the wind farm, and on turbine selection, it could generate between 15 megawatts of power – enough energy for 4,000 homes, and 25 megawatts of power – enough energy for 10,000 homes.
There are approximately 4,000 homes in the Hurunui Region.
MainPower is considering a number of options for wind turbines on the site which range from 30 small (46.5 metre) turbines to 10 large (125 metre) turbines.
There is also the possibility of extending the wind farm a further three kilometres to the north-east on private land. MainPower is currently discussing the option with the land owner which would double the size and energy output of the wind farm.
Berge said MainPower was conscious of the potential impacts of a wind farm on the local community and the environment.
“We know that on the one hand people support wind power from an environmental point of view and will see the economic sense of what we’re proposing, but on the other hand they will be conscious of how a wind farm might affect them,” he said.
Berge said the company had been discussing the proposal with a number of community groups since the middle of 2006 and it would continue to consult with the surrounding communities before it applied for resource consent.
MainPower expects to apply for resource consent from the Hurunui District Council toward the middle of 2007.
29 March 2007
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