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Meridian agrees to release wind data

Meridian Energy has finally agreed to hand over its Project Hayes wind data to appellant groups but wants them to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Groups opposing the Lammermoor Range wind farm say the company has been reluctant to release its data despite repeated requests for it to be made public.

Merdian wind technical strategy manager Paul Botha told the Environment Court yesterday the data was case sensitive.

When cross-examined Maniototo Environmental and Central Otago Environmental societies lawyer Mike Holm about how much data was needed for a wind farm of that scale, Mr Botha said only a minimum amount because there were reference stations on site.

“One year’s sufficient,” he said.

It was the energy output of the wind resource and the turbine that was the important factor, and data was measured at different sites and elevations and then synthesised.

Meridian has been monitoring wind from numerous monitoring masts for the past two and a half years and analysing data from Niwa and rural fire authorities dating back 11 years.

Mr Botha described the wind resource on site as “outstanding” – an average of 8m a second and noted the site recorded a maximum wind gust of up to 176kmh in the past four years.

“While the Project Hayes site is not one of the highest-wind-speed areas in the country, it has a very good wind resource and a range of other characteristics, the combination of which make it a particularly good site,” he said in his evidence.

The site has a high mean wind speed, very low turbulence and significant space available for optimum wind turbine placement.

Upland Landscape Protection Society member Ewan Carr put before the court an official request of how he would like the wind data submitted by the company.

He asked for information on median wind speed and half-hour generation profiles, wind direction and temperature from the site.

Meridian agreed to release the data only to those parties involved in the Environment Court proceedings, which will be made available today.

By Aimee Wilson

The Southland Times

31 July 2008