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Community to set up its own wind turbines  

Credit:  By Eileen Goodwin, Otago Daily Times, www.odt.co.nz 10 March 2011 ~~

Blueskin Bay is set to become the site of New Zealand’s first community wind-power project, its excited backers say.

Yesterday, representatives of the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust (BRCT) and Our Wind Ltd (Owl), a subsidiary of Christchurch wind-turbine manufacturer Windflow Technology, signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly set up a “wind cluster” to supply electricity for 700 to 1000 houses, generated by three to five community-owned turbines.

BRCT project manager Scott Willis said signing with Owl, whose directors include former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, was an exciting opportunity to break free from the big power companies’ “stranglehold”.

Primarily driven by a desire to be “sustainable” and environmentally friendly, most local people were also horrified by high power bills they had no control over, he said.

People wanted to become “prosumers” rather than passive consumers of goods and services, he said.

Unlike other countries, New Zealand did not have a regulatory environment favourable to community power projects, so it was a big challenge, Mr Willis said.

The backers aim to have the turbines generating within two years.

The project organisers need to raise about $4 million, confirm a site and obtain resource consent.

A business model was still to be developed but the two parties were likely to set up a separate entity with majority community ownership to oversee the project.

Mr Willis said locals were behind the plan and he did not expect opposition.

He believed it was a very different situation to big power companies seeking resource consent for wind farms, which often faced stiff opposition.

Owl chairman Dr Morgan Williams said electricity market was “niggling at the soul of New Zealand and New Zealanders”.

Source:  By Eileen Goodwin, Otago Daily Times, www.odt.co.nz 10 March 2011

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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