The Tararua district could be the location for yet another wind farm if plans by state-owned Mighty River Power to investigate a site in the Puketoi ranges prove a success.
The Puketoi ranges, east of Pahiatua, have been identified by the company as a “potential” site for a new 200 megawatt wind farm – enough to power about 120,000 homes.
Mighty River Power has signed contracts with 17 landowners in the area, which will allow the company to go ahead with initial tests.
Temporary masts will be installed over the next year, monitoring wind speed and direction to see if the site is suitable for a wind farm. This could take up to 18 months.
Mighty River Power spokeswoman Rosie Paul said the site was selected by a team of experts as having some potential, and further tests would show whether this was the case.
She would not say how many wind turbines could be expected for the ridgeline.
“It is a very long process, and this is very early on. We haven’t even got to that yet.”
However, the energy produced by the Puketoi wind farm would be the same as the proposed Turitea wind farm, at 200 megawatts.
The Turitea wind farm, a joint venture by the Palmerston North City Council and Mighty River Power, would include up to 60 125m turbines.
Puketoi landowners group chairman Phil Champion said farmers with land backing onto the Puketoi ranges had been approached by the company about three years ago.
“The landowners who have signed up are pretty excited by the prospect of a wind farm.”
The turbines would have little adverse effect on residents, he said.
“Pretty much no one would hear them, as they would be right on top of the Puketoi ranges.”
If the farm went ahead, which he hoped it would, Mighty River Power would look to connect it up to the proposed Turitea wind farm, he said.
The contract did involve a financial incentive for landowners, but Mr Champion would not reveal how much.
Tararua mayor Maureen Reynolds said the Tararua District Council did not have a view yet, as it would have to go through a formal resource consent process if contacted by Mighty River Power.
But she did say the Tararua district seemed to be a popular place for wind farms, with the other farms in the area producing well.
“They would have a lot of wind on that range – it makes a logical thought to consider something there.
“They must think that it is a worthwhile project.”
By Michelle Duff
26 March 2008
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