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Wind farm first approved 14 years ago may finally get underway

A wind farm granted resource consent in 2005 may finally get off the ground with Meridian Energy seeking interest from potential contractors this month.

The state-owned electricity company holds two resource consents to build wind farms on neighboring sites on the Maungahururu Range, about 34 kilometres northwest of Napier.

The consents were issued in 2005 to Hawke’s Bay Wind Farm and Unison Networks for up to 32 turbines and 15 turbines respectively.

The consents were purchased by Meridian in 2010 and 2011, and combined as one site. The consents were extended and now expire in late 2023.

Under the consent any wind turbine tower built on the site can have a maximum height of 85metres, with a “low reflectability finish”. The maximum height of a vertically extended blade tip is 130metres.

They must comply with national noise standards.

A Meridian spokeswoman said the Registration of Interest (ROI) process would identify the availability of potential contractors for the project.

“If we get to the stage when we are in a position to commence construction, then it will likely be at the beginning of 2020, and with any decision to build subject to a final Meridian Board approval,” she said.

Once suitably experienced contractors have submitted statements of interest and ability by August 9, Meridian will create a shortlist of prospective tenderers.

A provisional timetable stated that a preferred tenderer would be notified in early October and the contract awarded in December.

Meridian presently has seven wind farms in New Zealand and Australia as well as ten hydro schemes.

Last week Wind Energy Association chief executive Grenville Gaskell said New Zealand would need about another 1000 wind turbines to fulfil a government projection of 3390 megawatts of extra wind energy by 2050.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has radically overhauled its assumptions about the electricity market, in part reflecting new expectations about economic growth and the more rapid uptake of electric vehicles.

The ministry estimated about 6300 megawatts of new generating capacity will be needed in the next 30 years and assumes that, based on current trends, 55 per cent of that new capacity will come from wind.