November 16, 2007
New Zealand

Submissions on giant wind farm open

Resource consent applications for Southland’s largest wind farm, which will have the potential to generate enough power for 100,000 households, open for public submission tomorrow.

TrustPower’s $380 million wind farm at Kaiwera Downs, 10km east of Mataura, is the largest commercial development in the province since the Rayonier medium-density fibreboard plant in the mid-1990s, also near Mataura.

It will also be TrustPower’s largest wind farm development in the country.

The project promises to deliver a financial windfall to the community and Gore District Council.

TrustPower estimates, in its application, that $76 million could be injected into the local economy during the construction phase through the purchase of goods and services and the creation of about 100 jobs. There would be up to 10 permanent jobs once the wind farm was operational.

The district council would also gain directly through its financial contribution policy. The policy sets the maximum amount payable for commercial developments at 0.5 percent of a project’s total value – for the wind farm that equates to $1.9 million.

Council planning consultant Keith Hovell said the exact amount payable by TrustPower would probably be worked out between the company and council.

The wind farm was definitely a major development for the district and region in terms of scale.

But just how big a job the resource consent hearing process would be depended on the number of submissions received, he said.

TrustPower has applied for land use and discharge consents for 2568ha encompassing 10 properties, where it would place a maximum of 83 turbines. The turbines would be 145m high to the tip of the blade and have a maximum capacity of 240MW.

That compares with Meridian Energy’s wind farm near Mossburn, which has 29 turbines with a capacity of 70MW.

TrustPower’s application covers a “development envelope” that would allow design flexibility, an approach developed as a result of lessons learned from other wind farm developments. It has requested a 10-year consent period to allow the company to make decisions on when to start construction based on economic and equipment availability.

No decision has been made about whether construction would be staged. If it were not staged, TrustPower expects to have the wind farm commissioned within two to three years of construction starting.

The turbines would be shipped into Bluff and transported to the site by road.

The turbines would be visible up to 30km away but visibility analysis found local landform and vegetation screened many areas, the application says. Some turbines would be visible from elevated western sectors in Gore.

Residents within 5km of the wind farm were likely to be the most affected but for most the impact would not be adverse, it says.

The four-volume application can be viewed at the district council or Environment Southland offices. Submissions close on December 17.

By Sonia Gerken

The Southland Times

16 November 2007

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