Meridian Energy’s High Court bid to cut the rates bill on two of its major wind farms has failed.
In November the electricity giant, which is 51 per cent owned by the taxpayer, went to court to dispute the council’s rating policy for West Wind and Mill Creek, its two major wind farms at Makara.
Meridian, which is headquartered on the Wellington waterfront, claimed the council had acted unlawfully when setting its policy for how rates should be collected on the land beneath the wind farms.
Back in 2009 Wellington City Council took the decision to split the land used by the wind farms into two ratings categories, one which covers vacant or rural land, while the turbines themselves were categorised in the same way as land used for commercial or industrial use.
Meridian claimed the council acted unlawfully. If successful, the application could have cut Meridian’s rates back to 2009, saving the company more than $1.2 million.
However the decision of Justice David Collins, released on Tuesday, found the council did not act unlawfully in the rating decisions Meridian disputed.
“In particular, the council acted lawfully when it divided the rating units into two parts and placed the wind farm facilities portion of the rating units into the council’s commercial, industrial and business differential rating category,” Justice Collins’ decision said.
Wellington City Council chief executive Kevin Lavery welcomed the decision, which he said supported the organisation’s finance and rating policies.
“It confirms our policy of charging commercial rates on wind farm assets, rather than rural/residential rates.”
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