Mighty River Power wants to build a wind farm with up to 50 turbines along Marlborough’s east coast near Cape Campbell.
The 100 to 150 megawatt farm of between 33 to 50 80-metre turbines could power up to 70,000 homes.
The company has asked eight landowners to sign agreements giving Mighty River rights to research and build a wind farm on land south of Marfell’s Beach to north of Ward Beach, including the route of the commercial Cape Campbell Walkway.
Mighty River’s general manager of development, Mark Trigg, said the stretch of coast east of Ward was in the top tier of potential wind farm sites.
Landowners received contracts up to 12 months ago but none were signed yet, Mr Trigg said.
Landowners who spoke to The Marlborough Express could not be named as they had confidentiality agreements with the company.
A farmer whose property could be crossed by the scheme said the company was negotiating tiered financial packages with individual landowners. An initial sum was offered for allowing access.
If the scheme went ahead, payments would be based on roads and towers built on their land plus royalties on power generated.
Another landowner said the deal was potentially lucrative, with electricity generation the main source of income for farmers with wind farms on their land.
Mr Trigg said the next stage was more economic analysis then applying for resource consent. This would demand in-depth research including landscape evaluation and studying impacts on coastal birds. Building of the wind farm would start no earlier than 2015, given the time it took to gain consents, Mr Trigg said.
Mighty River Power had studied the area’s potential since installing four wind-monitoring masts in 2006, he said. Wind energy prices had since become competitive.
Marlborough District Council principal planner Peter Constantine said part of the investigation area was deemed an outstanding landscape. This guaranteed public consultation if Mighty River applied for relevant consents, from building monitoring structures in the research stage through to land use and land disturbance consents for the project to take shape.
Meridian Energy’s Makara wind farm near Wellington, visible from coastal Marlborough, has 62 wind turbines, each generating up to 2.3 MW of electricity.
Mighty River Power is a state-owned enterprise owning the nine-station Waikato hydro system, geothermal stations in Taupo and the Bay of Plenty and a gas-fired co-generation plant in South Auckland.
The company sells electricity to over 400,000 customers through its subsidiaries Mercury Energy, Bosco and Tiny Mighty Power.
Mighty River is monitoring wind on six New Zealand sites including Turitea near Palmerston North. The company is awaiting an Environment Court decision on an application to build a wind farm there in partnership with the Palmerston North City Council.
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