The on-again, off-again Waverley wind farm consent hearing is off again – this time, indefinitely.
The applicant, Australian-based Allco Wind Energy, now says it wants to sell the project first.
“We want the new owner to conduct the hearing, rather than Allco being involved as a seller,” Allco’s technical director Bernhard Voll said.
The hearing had been rescheduled for August 12. The South Taranaki District Council advised all parties on Monday that Allco had requested a further two-month postponement.
Senior planner Blair Sutherland said it would not be rescheduled until the company confirmed it wished to proceed.
Allco is selling assets to reduce debt.
This month it sold a planned wind farm in southern California for $US325 million and its seven Australian wind projects for $A12.5 million to Australia Gas and Light.
Australian bidders were not interested in the company’s New Zealand wind energy portfolio, Mr Voll said.
This currently comprises generation rights, landowner agreements and wind monitoring data at three locations: Waverley, Motorimu, south of Palmerston North, and Pori, near Eketahuna. Only Motorimu has been through a consent hearing. It was declined consent for 52 of the 127 turbines and Allco is awaiting the outcome of its appeal against this, saying it makes the farm uneconomic.
Mr Voll said Allco had so far spent $1 million on its projects and $10 million would buy the full portfolio, but he would not put a price on the Waverley farm, saying it would be available to potential bidders only.
“Waverley was seen as one of the top projects in our asset portfolio. A number of companies have registered interest and we will be contacting them this week to start the sale process,” he said from Sydney yesterday.
“We are assuming we can sell by the end of September. If not, we will have to rethink our options, but I am quite optimistic we can sell it.”
Farmers Warwick Lupton and David Alexander have an agreement to allow 45 wind turbines on their properties.
Mr Lupton was not worried by the further postponement.
“We’ve been told that Mr Voll is one of the world’s top experts on wind power and he remains strong and confident about Waverley. Allco had 14 potential New Zealand buyers register an interest in the portfolio and renewable energy is what our government is encouraging.”
His neighbour Roger Dickie, the most vigorous opponent of the wind farm, doubts it will be built. “Our research says there is simply not enough wind there, and the whole thing is being pushed along by paid consultants.”
By Richard Wood
Taranaki Daily News
31 July 2008
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