Mighty River Power’s plans to build a 53-turbine wind farm at Puketoi in southern Tararua are being outlined in a resource management hearing starting in Pahiatua today.
A transmission line from the proposed wind farm would extend over the Tararua Ranges to connect to the consented but undeveloped 60-turbine Turitea wind farm and its links to the national grid at Linton.
The Puketoi turbines would be erected over a 5700 hectare area, generating enough electricity to power 160,000 households.
The project needs consents from Horizons Regional Council, Tararua District Council, and the Palmerston North City Council.
MRP development team general manager Mark Trigg is expected to tell commissioners about the importance of planning future wind generation options to the company and to New Zealand, even though electricity demand is not likely to support further wind farms for several years. His evidence describes Turitea as strategically important, and Puketoi as the company’s second significant wind farm.
The Government’s plans to sell up to 49 per cent of its ownership in MRP would not affect the company’s operations, such as wind farm developments, he said.
The city council’s reporting planner, David Forrest, is recommending consent be granted for the nine transmission towers that would be built on the Turitea Reserve.
Consent applications related to the $150 million Puketoi development have attracted 136 submissions, including 83 in support.
Leading opposition are the Waitahora-Puketoi Guardians, who argue the Puketoi Range is an outstanding natural landscape that should be protected from unnecessary development.
The overall level of support stands in contrast to the Turitea wind farm, which attracted 702 submissions, with two-thirds opposed.
The hearing is set to continue until the Easter break, with a further week in April set aside if needed.
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