A company involved in developing wind farms in Australia and Europe yesterday confirmed it is investigating the potential for a $390 million wind farm near the Southland township of Wyndham capable of supplying electricity to about 74,000 homes.
The proposed Slopedown wind farm would carry up to 50 3MW turbines on farmland 15km east of Wyndham.
Wanaka-based Wind Prospect CWP (NZ) Ltd released details of its plans, which it admits are in their early stages, but it hopes to be generating power from the site in less than four years.
The announcement is the second in recent months of plans for a wind farm near Gore. Late last year, TrustPower lodged a resource consent application for a development at Kaiwera Downs, also south of Gore.
All going well with the compiling of reports and public consultation, Wind Prospect hopes to lodge a resource consent application by the end of this year, with construction to be finished by December 2011.
A community open day will be held at the Wyndham Memorial Hall on April 11, between 3pm-8pm. The company issued a newsletter to the immediate community yesterday which formally begins its public consultation.
A company representative last week briefed the Wyndham Community Board on its plans and board chairman Digger Eunson yesterday said it sounded like ‘‘a great idea’’.
Wind Prospect managing director Michael Vawser said the company had several potential projects planned around the country but the Slopedown development was the most advanced and the only one ready for public release.
‘‘The Slopedown wind farm would present a range of benefits on both a local and national level. The project would help meet growing electricity demands in the South Island while also contributing to the national renewable energy target of 90% renewable energy by 2025.’’
It is not known how many people would be involved in the construction process but the company claims a ‘‘small number’’ of permanent staff would be needed during the wind farm’s projected 20-year life span.
In an interview, company development manager Will Stone said several assessments and reports would be conducted over the next few months but he hoped consent applications could be lodged before Christmas. The main consent would be filed with the Southland District Council while minor consents would be considered by Environment Southland.
The Slopedown site was picked after a thorough investigation which revealed it was a ‘‘prime place’’ to build a wind farm.
The company was also investigating the possibility of improving wireless communications in the Slopedown areas, which it said was in a ‘‘communications black spot’’, as well as creating a community trust to support community activities and developments nearby.
Mr Eunson said the site earmarked was ideal because it was a very windy location and in an area where it would be almost impossible to see the large turbines.
By Glenn Conway
1 April 2008
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