A new business structure for Trustpower could put major wind farm developments in the South back on the agenda.
The company has consent to construct an 83-turbine wind farm at Kaiwera Downs, near Gore, and permission to add another 88 turbines to its wind farm at Mahinerangi, west of Dunedin.
In December, the Trustpower board announced it wanted to split the Bay of Plenty-based power company into two separately listed companies.
NewCo would take over all Trustpower’s Australian and New Zealand wind assets and its wind and solar power pipeline, while Trustpower Core would hold the remaining generation and multi-product retailing businesses.
The split would enable NewCo to list on the New Zealand stock exchange and possibly the Australian stock exchange, and to raise the capital required to progress wind farm developments on both sides of the Tasman, Trustpower community relations manager Graeme Purches said this week.
Projects worth an estimated $NZ2.5billion were in the pipeline, most of them in Australia, he said.
Trustpower received resource consent for the Kaiwera Downs wind farm in 2008 and survived an Environment Court appeal brought by neighbours.
The turbines would be erected on 2500ha of leased farmland and would generate up to 240MW of electricity annually.
Trustpower would sign a pre-purchase agreement with NewCo to take all the electricity generated at the site, Mr Purches said.
The project, originally costed at $450million to $500million, has been on hold since 2009, but was “looking closer” now the company demerger could provide the capital to proceed, he said.
The demerger could also enable the expansion of Mahinerangi to be considered. Twelve turbines, generating 36MW of electricity annually, were commissioned in 2011.
“We’ve only built 25% of what [is consented]. Expansion was always an option at some point.”
A re-evaluation of the financial and technical requirements of the Kaiwera Downs project was under way, Mr Purches said.
“Much has changed with the technology of wind turbines in the past five years. They are more efficient and cheaper. The re-evaluation is to make sure the project still stacks up financially [with new technology turbines].”
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