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Howard's End: Trustpower Gets Env-Friendly In Oz

As this country struggles to produce enough electricity to meet demand, New Zealand power utility Trustpower, is to finance a $AUD 200 million wind farm electricity project not in New Zealand, but in South Australia. Maree Howard writes.

The Adelaide newspaper Sunday Mail reported over the weekend, that NZ utility Trustpower will finance a $AUD 200 million wind farm covering a 10km swathe of the southern Adelaide coastline.

Trustpower already operates a smaller wind farm in New Zealand but was apparently denied permission by the Government to build a new hydro-electricity power plant and dam at Dobson on the West Coast.

The mayor of Westland District John Drylie, has also spoken about wind power generation along the massive unpopulated coastline of the West Coast and I have done extensive research on such a project, but little outside interest has been shown so far.

It was Trustpower who bought-out the West Coast power generator Westpower under the deregulation regime instituted by the previous government.

The South Australian project to be operated by Wind Farm Developments but financed by Trustpower, will be the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere and will be capable of powering up to 80,000 Adelaide homes with environmentally friendly electricity.

More than two dozen 100m tall windmills will have a 57 tonne turbine perched 67 metres in the air which will be powered by 33m hollow fibreglass blades.

Wind power captured by the rotors is expected to generate 122 megawatts of electricity, or enough for 80,000 homes, fed directly into the grid with little loss due to the close proximity of users.

The wind farm will have about a dozen permanent employees and create up to another 40 jobs during construction such as making concrete foundations.

The power pylons can be manufactured in South Australia but the high-tech generators and blades are made in Denmark.

Wind Farm Developments director, Alistair Wilson said from an environmental viewpoint wind farms are an excellent way to generate power.

"It will displace about 450,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year and displace around 97,000 cars' worth of emissions. The noise levels comply with State criteria for wind farms," he said.

Mr Wilson also praised State and local governments for their openness to the plan which is about to go to the Development Assessment Commission for approval. There is not expected to be any opposition.

Two public meetings in the area so far have shown little opposition to this large project while a seperate $60 million wind farm is also proposed further south. The State of Victoria has also established a huge wind farm project along its Portland coastline.

Local community associations have been right behind the SA projects with Aldinga Bay Traders Association treasurer Lyn Shield saying; "It is definitely the way to go - I don't know why someone hasn't done it already."

It should be of real concern to the coalition government when a New Zealand power utility like Trustpower has seen business opportunities in South Australia when those same opportunities go begging in this country. Particularly, since Trustpower already operates a small wind farm in NZ - What went wrong?

ENDS

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