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Wind farm draws more appeals

Contact Energy has lodged an appeal on the Project Hayes wind farm to try and push for a transmission upgrade to prevent electricity “spilling” from the grid.

Yesterday, four new appeals were lodged in the Environment Court (including Contact Energy’s) bringing the total to five.

Contact spokesman Jonathan Hill said the company supported Meridian Energy’s Project Hayes but the appeal was to ensure investment was made in transmission capacity before the wind farm was commissioned.

The company argued during the hearing process that the transmission network in Central Otago was constrained and an investment in transmission capacity needed to be developed.

“We were seeking a condition in the (resource) consent which would ensure Transpower made those investments… that didn’t happen.” Contact still wanted the consent to be conditional on transmission capacity being kept in step with the new energy generation in the area.

Electricity Commission research showed that if the 630MW generated from Project Hayes and 200MW from the Mahinerangi wind farm, 50km west of Dunedin, was added to the transmission grid without an upgrade, then some 1000 gigawatt-hours of energy would end up spilled, Mr Hill said.

That would be the equivalent of about about one-third of the electricity produced at Clyde and Roxburgh dams in an average year, Mr Hill said. “You end up with the situation where one form of generation is simply displacing another and there’s a significant reduced net benefit.” At the resource consent hearing, Contact’s lawyer Trevor Robinson said spilled water was regarded as lost water or lost renewable energy generation.

“We’re not suggesting in any way that it is the responsibility of the generators to pay for those upgrades, that’s Transpower’s job,” Mr Hill said.

Meridian Energy, the company behind Project Hayes, also lodged an appeal yesterday.

Spokesman Alan Seay said of the 160 conditions listed in the resource consent decision, the company was appealing only a few.

Its appeal was to clarify conditions relating to traffic and constructions related activities, he said.

It was hoped these could then be resolved through mediation process, Mr Seay said.

The Southland Times

26 November 2007