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Final wind turbine installed as project nears end

Final wind turbine installed as Te Apiti development nears completion

Meridian Energy’s Te Apiti wind farm development in the Tararua ranges reached a major milestone at the weekend, with the completion of the project’s 55th and last wind turbine on Saturday.

The final component put in place was the 70m-diameter rotor, the installation of which was delayed for several days last week by high winds.

Meridian spokesman Alan Seay says the project is on course for full commissioning later this month, when Te Apiti will be capable of generating to its full 90 megawatt (MW) capacity.

“The installation of the last turbine marks the completion of a very successful development programme, which has seen the southern hemisphere’s largest wind farm consented and constructed in a little over a year.

“This is despite the major storm and flooding in February which resulted in the loss of a substantial number of working days. There has been 1784mm of rain since the project started; we lost a key bridge for transporting material to the site, but thanks to the efforts of everyone involved it has made very little difference to the timetable.”

Of the completed turbines, 45 are now fully commissioned, and delivering power to the national grid.

Mr Seay says quite apart from being a new source of clean, renewable power, Te Apiti has provided a major tourism bonus for the region. Meridian has provided a public viewing area near one of the turbines, and a car counter installed by Tararua District Council has recorded 1257 cars visiting the site during the last week of September alone.

A study carried out by Destination Manawatu has estimated the wind farm could be worth up to $7 million to the region in tourist activity.

The Danish-built 1.65MW wind turbines are the largest currently in use in New Zealand, and each of them can generate enough electricity to power up to 900 average homes.

When fully commissioned, Te Apiti as a whole will generate enough power to supply some 45,000 homes.

Meridian Energy is currently investigating another major wind farm development at White Hill, near Lumsden, in Southland.

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