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Upgrade ‘not enough’ for two wind farms  

Transpower’s proposed stage one South Island transmission upgrade won’t be enough to support both Project Hayes and the Mahinerangi wind farms if they are built at the same time, Meridian Energy believes.

The company’s transmission expert Guy Waipara, who was formerly Transpower’s grid development manager, told the Environment Court in Cromwell yesterday he did not think there was enough room for both wind farms.

He said approval for the stage one upgrade, estimated to cost $40 million and expected in the next few months, would only increase capacity by 500MW to 600MW.

Project Hayes was 630MW and Trustpower’s Mahinerangi wind farm 200MW, but even if the upgrade was approved by Christmas, it would take at least another two years to be constructed.

Project Hayes has been proposed for the Lammermoor Ranges in Central Otago.

When questioned by commissioners if the wind farm would still be built if the upgrades didn’t go ahead, he said he believed it was possible to build only up to 300MW before transmission became a problem. “So what I’m saying is Hayes wouldn’t fit in its entirety.” Transpower is planning a full $100 million upgrade of the transmission line from Roxburgh to Waitaki, but Mr Waipara said stage two was now uncertain, and could be 10 to 20 years away.

He said both wind farm projects had been planned in stages to compensate for the transmission constraints.

When questioned by Upland Landscape Protection Society lawyer Nic Russell about transmission constraints, he said it was complicated because Transpower had to look at the big picture of power generation during the next 20 years.

Mr Russell said Transpower’s ability to pay for the upgrade relied on recouping the cost from consumers and the company was not at liberty to decide how much to charge for its grid.

But Mr Waipara responded that Transpower was adding only three wires on to the existing line – “it’s not as if they are putting in a whole new line,” he said.

The owner of the Ancient Briton pub in Naseby is Roch Sullivan, not Sutherland as was incorrectly reported yesterday.

By Aimee Wilson

The Southland Times

30 July 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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