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Welcome for approval of Mount Cass wind farm in Canterbury

Welcome for approval of the Mount Cass wind farm in Canterbury

The approval of resource consent for a wind farm in Canterbury has been welcomed by Eric Pyle, Chief Executive of the NZ Wind Energy Association. “The approval of the Mount Cass wind farm by the Environment Court is a much needed boost for the supply of electricity to northern South Island and the environment,” he says.

The responsible plans for development of the wind farm with conservation benefits by local electricity lines company MainPower have also been supported by Mr Pyle. “The Environment Court has recognised that MainPower put a lot of effort into improving biodiversity as part of the project plans.

“The Mount Cass wind farm will be a big win for the environment and the people of Canterbury. It proves that the wind industry can deliver renewable energy together with conservation benefits and cheaper, more reliable electricity.”

The proposed Mount Cass wind farm is 5.5km from Waipara in north Canterbury. It would form part of MainPower’s electricity supply to North Canterbury and Kaikoura. “It is the first major wind farm in this area to achieve resource consent and an important source of clean energy for local homes and businesses,” said Eric Pyle.

“It is too early to say when construction might go ahead, but MainPower can now look closely at their plans and review the best choice of current models to generate cost effective electricity,” says Eric Pyle. “We welcome the addition of Mount Cass to the list of available wind farm sites around New Zealand.”

Background

Resource consent allows MainPower to choose the final wind turbines to be used, allowing for 26 to 67 turbines depending on the size chosen. The electricity lines company applied to Hurunui District Council for resource consent in 2007 and the decision was subsequently appealed to the Environment Court MainPower significantly redesigned the proposal through a process of Environment Court sponsored mediation, which was then taken to a hearing in August 2011.

There will be a net gain in biodiversity if the project goes ahead. As part of the project, MainPower will protect 127 Hectares of predominantly native shrubland and forest in a limestone based ecosystem. The Environment Court decision recognises that there may be an increase in native bird populations as a result.

The plan for the Mount Cass wind farm, approved by the Environment Court this week, includes three alternative turbine layouts depending on the final model chosen;

• 67 turbines of 500kW capacity each, total capacity 33.5MW
• 40 turbines 1MW capacity each, total capacity 40MW
• 26 turbines 3MW capacity each, total capacity 78MW

Wind generated electricity is now very cost effective and costs are continuing to improve. Wind generated electricity also tends to reduce electricity prices in New Zealand as it operates without subsidy and with low operating costs displaces more expensive electricity from the wholesale market.

The wind farm would link in to the electricity network near Waipara.

The consent has a time limit of 8 years, within which construction must be started. Before construction can commence, MainPower will monitor hydrology and bird populations for 2 years.

Wind farms already generate over 4% of New Zealand’s electricity. The Mount Cass wind farm would produce approximately ½% of New Zealand’s electricity, 40% of North Canterbury’s electricity needs.

NZ Wind Energy Association is an industry body that supports the continuing development of wind as a reliable, sustainable, clean and commercially viable energy source. We aim to fairly represent wind energy to the public, government and the energy sector. Our members include about 80 companies involved in New Zealand's wind energy sector, including electricity generators, wind farm developers, lines companies, turbine manufacturers, consulting firms, researchers and law firms.

For more information visit www.windenergy.org.nz

ENDS

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