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Contact Energy seeks delay over Central Otago wind farm

Contact Energy has taken the unusual step of appealing against another energy operator’s wind farm project.

It has asked the Environment Court to place a special condition on Meridian Energy’s 630-megawatt wind farm in Central Otago, saying it should go ahead only when there is enough investment in transmission lines to carry electricity out of the area.

Contact’s general manager of corporate affairs Bruce Parkes says Contact is not against the project itself, but any additional wind generation will cause Contact to spill water from its Clyde and Roxburgh dams.

Meridian Energy says it is disappointed, saying the appeal runs counter to Contact’s support for the Government’s goal to have 90% of New Zealand’s electricity generated from renewable sources.

On 9 November, Transpower announced it plans to boost the capacity of its grid lines because of new wind farms in the South Island.

To avoid congestion on the grid when the Project Hayes and Lake Mahinerangi wind farms in Otago come online, Transpower needs the upgrade to increase the capacity of the high voltage direct current link, which delivers electricity from Benmore to Wellington.

It is expected to cost about $600 million. It is likely that the link’s current maximum capacity will be doubled from 700MW to 1400MW.

Transpower said details will be issued for public consultation at the end of November.

Radio New Zealand

22 November 2007