Contact Energy has scaled back its proposed North Waikato wind farm.
The power company yesterday lodged resource consent paperwork for a 180 turbine wind farm 35km northwest of Huntly. The $1 billion plus project will generate enough electricity to power 200,000 average sized houses. The project was originally proposed to have more than 200 turbines.
But the company faces major hurdles including opposition to pylons needed to carry the electricity to the major electricity demand centres in Auckland and Hamilton.
Contact Energy chief executive David Baldwin said the development of Hauauru ma raki wind farm provided a renewable and climate-friendly energy source.
The wind farm would be built in stages, with the first power to be carried from the site in 2012. Construction would inject $150 million into the local ecomony, the company said.
The 540MW capacity wind farm would be spread in nine clusters of 150m high turbines along 40km of remote and privately-owned pastoral farmland.
Waikato District Council environmental services group manager Nath Pritchard anticipated the biggest issue would be the sheer size of the proposed wind farm.
“For us the biggest issue is the fact it’s going to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, wind farm in New Zealand … that will be a challenge in itself.”
With the nearby Wel Networks Te Uku wind farm plan being appealed to the Environment Court, he expected there would be some opposition to the Te Akau wind farm. “Wel Networks is just on the other side of the road if you like, so there might be a few people, if they are being consistent, who would object to this.”
Simon Worsp, who has a farm at Matira and also runs outdoor tourism business Adventure Waikato from his property, believes the construction of the wind turbines could be invasive and might affect land values.
“I’m uncertain as to how it will affect my business. I’ve been told it will be good for tourism because people will want to come and view them, but I don’t believe that … If we have three years of heavy truck traffic I can’t see it will be a good thing for my guests.” He said there were many uncertainties about the proposal. “I would like to see other possibilities, such as encouraging households to have solar panels and investigating alternatives like wave and tidal power.”
Contact had already encountered difficulty in its negotiations with landowners over the 220kV pylons, which were needed for the 28km transmission line to connect the wind farm to the grid north of Huntly.
Contact spokesman Jonathon Hill said parts of the project had been scaled down slightly after consultation with residents. The original capacity was set at 650kW but had now dropped to 540kW while the number of turbines had also been scaled down from 218 to 180.
Council will evaluate the application before calling for feedback.
By Belinda Feek and Rebecca Harper
27 June 2008
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