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Wind farm benefits 'oversold'

Transmission issues relating to Project Hayes wind farm were being sidelined and the benefits of the proposal over sold, Contact Energy said yesterday.

Significant constraint issues were raised by the proposal and Meridian Energy was not taking Contact’s concerns about the national grid seriously, the counsel for Contact, Trevor Robinson, told the panel hearing the resource consent application for the wind farm on the Lammermoor Range.

There was no hard data on how Project Hayes would affect hydro output from the Clyde and Roxburgh dams, and no evidence that Transpower would upgrade the national grid, Mr Robinson said.

Contact supports the wind farm application, but wants conditions imposed to ensure the project is staged as trans mission upgrades occur. Meridian has said that a new transmission line would not be needed for the 630MW of electricity generated from Project Hayes, but that a $40 million upgrade of two key southern transmission areas would be sufficient and was likely to occur.

However other power projects planned were already going to strain the system. Contact market and dispatch manager Boyd Brinsdon said. The White Hill wind farm and increases in output from the Clyde and Manapouri power stations could see an increase in capacity of 230MW. There were already transmission constraints between OtagoSouthland and the Waitaki Valley, and once Project Hayes was generating at 300MW that could make the system unstable.

If transmission lines could not cope with the extra electricity, water could be forced to spill from the Clyde or Roxburgh dams, due to windfarm electricity taking priority on transmission lines. This would be lost renewable energy generation and cancel out any benefit from greenhouse gas emissions reductions promised by Project Hayes, Mr Robinson said.

Transpower has not made a submission on the proposal, but the panel has accepted a letter from it saying Trans power was not proposing any investment in Otago or South land, but would investigate various technical options to increase transmission capacity if required.

By Pam Jones

Otago Daily Times


15 May 2007