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Waikato wind farm still on cards

There’s still hope for Contact Energy’s 168-turbine Waikato wind farm.

The energy company released its annual report last week saying the Hauauru ma raki project “will not proceed in the foreseeable future”, which squashed hopes of it adding jobs to the region.

WEL Networks chief executive Julian Elder said his company would be interested in talking to Contact Energy’s partner the Wind Farm Group about its plans for the wind project, which would generate enough power for 170,000 homes and create hundreds of jobs.

“We always have an interest in opportunities,” Dr Elder said. “It’s something that we would follow and look at and see how it stacked up. We would not be interested in doing it on our own. It would have to be the right partners.”

His only knowledge of the scheme, consented for the Waikato coast between Raglan and Port Waikato in 2011, was from media coverage.

“It’s likely parties interested in picking up the consent from Contact would come and talk to us about our interest. We are not the ones to take the lead.”

Wind Farm Group managing director Al Yates, who according to the company’s website initiated its start-up from the Netherlands by researching the European market, did not return calls from the Waikato Times yesterday.

The project was expected to inject $180 million into the regional economy, including $115m of household income over a five-year construction period.

Details were still being confirmed around how the generator would exit the scheme and what the time frame would be, Contact Energy spokesman Nicholas Robinson.

“It is common for large generation development projects to take time to be developed from a concept through to an operational development,” Mr Robinson said.

“Since receiving resource consents we have been progressing the project, specifically the transmission designation corridor, and bird monitoring programme. Under our consents conditions we were required to undertake bird monitoring for a minimum of two years prior to construction.

“In view of flat electricity demand, current overcapacity in electricity generation in New Zealand and regulatory uncertainty in the New Zealand electricity market, developing the Hauauru ma raki wind farm has become uneconomic in the medium term.”