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Meridian Launches Community Fund For White Hill

Media Release for immediate use 10 December 2008

Meridian Launches Community Fund For White Hill Generation Area

Meridian is launching a new Community Fund to the total value of $75,000 over three years for the communities around the White Hill wind farm, Mossburn, Dipton and Lumsden, in northern Southland.

The Meridian White Hill Community Fund will be administered by a panel of community members and Meridian staff and will begin operating in March 2009.

Meridian Strategic Relations Advisor Mark France says the Community Fund is Meridian’s way of recognising the special contribution of the communities surrounding the White Hill wind farm during its construction and operation.

“We received huge local support for the building of the White Hill wind farm. We believe we have become part of the local community, so we are committed to helping local people maintain a strong and successful community,” says Mark France.

Mark France says this model of community funding has worked well in Meridian’s other generation areas.

“The Community Fund model of funding has worked very well in our Manapouri, Waitaki and Te Apiti generation areas. It gives people a sense of ownership of the funding process and a say in how the funds are used. This will ensure that initiatives that are of value to the community are supported,” says Mark France. “The funding round will be for an initial three years. This will allow for certainty in planning for projects with long term benefit and will allow local people to initiate various projects that will help ensure a successful and sustainable community,” he added.

Southland Mayor Frana Cardno says the Meridian White Hill Community Fund will be of great benefit to the communities of Mossburn, Dipton and Lumsden.

“The relationship Meridian has had with the communities surrounding the White Hill

wind farm has been excellent. Meridian has set a good example in how organisations should work with local communities to keep them informed in their operations,” she says.

“This area relies a lot on volunteers and community spirit so the new Community Fund is a welcome addition to our area. It is fantastic that Meridian has recognised this and is working with locals to ensure worthwhile initiatives are provided for,” she added.

There will be two funding allocation meetings per year, with the first in March 2009. Funding decisions will be based on the objectives and criteria established for the Fund including; promoting environmental awareness and programmes that sustain and improve the quality of the environment, contributing to the sustainability of nonprofit organisations or volunteer services, and the provision of learning opportunities. Funding request forms will be made available online at Background - White Hill Wind Farm

The White Hill wind farm is Meridian’s second wind farm development and was constructed on an 8km by 3km section of forestry land in Southland, south-east of Mossburn (which is around 14 km west of Lumsden).

The site is ideal for wind-powered electricity generation due to the strong and consistent natural wind in the area.

The 29-turbine wind farm has the potential to provide power for up to 30,000 homes. The turbines stand 107m tall and their rotor blades have an 80m diameter sweep. The wind farm was officially opened by Prime Minister Helen Clark in a community based ceremony on 8 June 2007.


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