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Wind farm would require 50m mast  

A proposed $40 million, 40-turbine wind farm near Mt Maungatua beyond the Taieri Plain requires installation of a 50m data-collecting wind mast before a final decision is made on the project’s viability.

In March last year, Windpower Maungatua Ltd confirmed its proposal to build a 40-turbine, 20-megawatt wind farm beyond the Taieri Plain sited on a second ridge well back from the Mt Maungatua face which overlooks the plain, with power output for about 9000 households.

Three months later, listed company New Zealand Windfarms, which already had a 16% stake in Windpower Maungatua and had raised an oversubscribed $75 million on the stock market for other projects, said it wanted to inject a substantial proportion of cash into the proposed project near Dunedin.

New Zealand Windfarms’ chief executive Chris Freear said yesterday the feasibility study was ‘‘substantially completed’’.

A resource consent would be lodged by next week for installation of the bladeless 50m mast to collect further wind data.

Pending approval, the mast, which was unlikely to be visible from Dunedin International Airport, could be installed in eight weeks and a final decision could be made on the project’s viability by September, based on data gleaned.

The initial feasibility study began in June and was funded by NZ Windfarms, which said at the time it wanted to increase its stake in the fledgling private Otago company behind the proposal.

Mr Freear reiterated yesterday that NZ Windfarms wanted to build its stake in Windpower Maungatua from its present 16% to 50%, and was in negotiation with other shareholders.

If the additional 34% stake was accepted, NZ Windfarms would largely fund the next stage of investigations, which would cost ‘‘several hundred thousand dollars’’, he said.

‘‘As our prospectus outlined last May, it Maungatua was probably the next site of interest for us to develop,’’ he said.

If the development went ahead, there would be consultation with the local community and iwi, the Dunedin City Council, and the Department of Conservation. Resource consent applications would be publicly notified.

-NZ Windfarms was already in a 50-50, $80 million jointventure partnership building a 97-turbine North Island wind farm.

Part of the NZ Windfarms offer was a shareholder priority pool of five million shares, which closed 84% oversubscribed and was scaled back, while listed electricity distribution company Vector, as planned, took a 19.99% cornerstone shareholding of 15.7 million shares, worth about $17.3 million.

By Simon Hartley

The Otago Daily Times

25 January 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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