TRUSTPOWER has considered about 50 sites in the southern region for wind farms, but has only come up with two viable locations, the Environment Court heard yesterday.
TrustPower major projects manager Deion Campbell told the court the company had advertised in rural publications for farmers to contact them if they thought they owned land which would be suitable for a wind farm.
The company had replies from about 50 farmers in the South, and had investigated them, but found only two which were suitable: Mahinerangi and Kaiwera Downs.
Mr Campbell said TrustPower had received 200 replies nationwide, and were also considering wind farms in Taranaki, Northland and Marlborough, but it took many years to collect data, and to make a decision to approve the project. Kaiwera Downs, near Gore, had yet to be granted resource consent after a hearing earlier this year, Mr Campbell said.
The location of Mahinerangi was technically sound and economically robust for Trust-Power.
There would be 80 jobs created in the construction of the wind farm, and enough power for 95,800 homes.
Upon completion eight staff would be employed.
The Mahinerangi wind farm had a capacity of between 37% and 45%, which he said would make a large contribution to energy supply, and was above the world average. Hydro had a capacity of between 52% and 55%, in New Zealand.
Capacity was how often the plant ran at 100%.
The construction of the wind farm would be staged, which was easier for planning, he said.
Generation could start 12 to 13 months after the beginning of construction.
The company had not decided on whether to have 100 turbines, of 2MW each, or 66 turbines of 3MW each.
The final selection of wind turbines would depend on turbine location, and geo-technical considerations.
Demand for electricity in New Zealand was growing at 150MW a year, and the country’s electricity system was suited to large-scale wind farm production.
The company favoured operating small to medium-sized power projects, so was just considering a 200MW development. Within the development envelope were areas where turbines would be excluded due to geo-technical and ecological constraints.
Government policy will have little bearing on the decision made by the Environment Court over the Mahinerangi wind farm.
In his opening submission TrustPower counsel Les Taylor said the wind farm would sit well within Government policy, which had an objective of 90% renewable energy by 2025.
But Judge Jeff Smith said the Environment Court was not a creature of Government policy.
There were Government departments which had political objectives, but they were not recognised by parts of the Resource Management Act.
The court was also not bound by national standards, unless they were written into law.
By STEVE HEPBURN
Thursday, 17th April 2008
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