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Meridian Energy disputes wind farm rates with Wellington City Council in High Court

Meridian Energy has taken its dispute over rates with Wellington City Council to court.

A judicial review proceeding related to the council’s existing rating policy started in the High Court at Wellington on Monday and is set down for two days.

Meridian applied to the High Court seeking a judicial review of rates due for West Wind in Makara and the nearby Mill Creek.

The company is disputing how the land, near Wellington, on which the wind turbines are built, should be rated – whether the land falls into a base or commercial category.

The Judge will review the process taken to reach a decision, rather than the decision itself.

Meridian has asked the court to review past and current revenue and financing policy decisions, separation and rating information decisions and the commercial differential categorisation made by the the council.

Meridian is currently charged commercial rates on the wind turbines, which are located on farmland.

It is understood last year’s new rateable values (RV) pushed the rates up considerably and could cost Meridian millions of dollars.

The value of the wind turbines on wind farms often far exceeds the value of the land beneath.

One 987 hectare parcel of land owned by Meridian on Makara Road has a land value of just under $10 million, but an improvement value of $44m, giving a rateable value of $54m.

Headquartered in Wellington and 51 per cent owned by the Government, Meridian generates around a third of New Zealand’s electricity, mostly from South Island hydroelectricity schemes. It is valued by the market at more than $6.5 billion.

– Stuff