Investing in a Te Uku wind farm is as risky as buying an apartment in Auckland.
That was how Raglan-based market research consultant Rodger Gallagher described the inherent financial danger underlying Wel Networks’ proposed 238-turbine wind farm at a protracted Resource Management Act hearing into the project in Ngaruawahia yesterday.
“What if the climate change theory was wrong and a large natural gas find was made in New Zealand?” he asked. Mr Gallagher presented calculations which showed a rate of return of 1.1 per cent on the wind farm. “If the wind energy is just 4.1 per cent less than forecast then the project changes from a marginal investment to a rejected investment proposal.”
He said a more effective investment for Wel would be to spend $200 million installing 70,000 heat pumps in Waikato homes.
The wind farm tied up capital in a marginal project, spoiled the landscape, brought noise pollution, and would damage Raglan’s tourism and image. Mr Gallagher also queried whether Wel had allowed for the high cost of keeping wind turbines operational.
Bill McNatty, representing the Tui G Society, said there were so many discrepancies in the financial modelling of the project nobody could have confidence in it. He said the application should be rejected on the grounds its financial viability was likely to have adverse effects on Wel’s customer base.
Frank and Sue Bellamy, proprietors of Hidden Valley Luxury Retreat, spoke of the devastating impact a wind farm would have on their accommodation business, which was pitched around providing an “unspoiled paradise”.
Mr Bellamy said Wel had never consulted with him at any stage despite its consultants presenting evidence earlier that his business would increase by 11 per cent through having a wind farm nearby.
By Bruce Holloway
28 February 2008
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