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West Wind approval recognises benefits of wind

Media release
22 December 2005

West Wind approval recognises benefits and realities of wind

The New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA) warmly welcomed the decision to grant a resource consent for Meridian Energy to construct and operate a 70 turbine, 210 MW wind farm on the South West coast of Wellington between Makara Beach and Cape Terawhiti.

NZWEA Chief Executive, James Glennie, welcomed the Commissioners’ acknowledgement of the major role that wind energy has to play in delivering significant quantities of competitively priced, and much needed, electricity to consumers.

“This wind development will annually generate enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 400,000 domestic users and it makes use of a natural and renewable wind energy resource which is one of the best in the entire world.

“We believe wind energy can provide New Zealand with 20 per cent of our electricity in an affordable, reliable and environmentally sustainable fashion and this project alone will provide the nation with two per cent of its annual electricity needs.

“This is the equivalent of what would be obtained by burning 7.6 million tonnes of coal and releasing more than 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from a coal fired power station, over the 20 year operational life of the West Wind project,” said Mr Glennie.

The decision of the Commissioners is significant as it notes that, from both a global and national point of view, wind farms are an environmentally responsible means of providing this country with electricity.

Following a decision by the Commissioners to require Meridian Energy to establish a West Wind Recreational Group and a Community Liaison Group, it is clear that there are substantial benefits to the local community such as through recreation and tourism.

“It is now up to the local Makara residents as to whether they want to take advantage of these possibilities,” Mr Glennie said.

“It is to be hoped that following this decision those few Makara residents that are opposed to the project will accept the decision of the independent Commissioners. The NZWEA hopes that they will recognise the outstanding resource they possess, the wider national need to develop it, the environmental benefits the project will bring and the significant upside this development can deliver for their community,” said Mr Glennie.

“Project West Wind is going to be the world’s best wind farm. It is something in which Makara residents, Wellingtonians and, indeed, all New Zealanders, can take great pride.”

In 2004 the wind industry was the fastest growing energy sector in New Zealand with growth of more than 300 per cent. 170 MW is now installed and operating. 90 MW is currently under construction, more than 400 MW of new capacity has been consented in the last 12 months and just over 600 MW is currently in the resource consent process.

The NZWEA has more than 60 members including some of New Zealand’s largest electricity generators and lines companies.

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