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Resource consent highlights grid problems

Media Release
For immediate release: Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Meridian says Project Hayes resource consent highlights grid problems

Meridian Energy’s Chief Executive Officer Keith Turner today welcomed the news that the Project Hayes wind farm development has been granted resource consent, but also voiced his concerns on how management issues surrounding New Zealand’s HVDC link would impact on the progress of the project.

The Project Hayes site, which received consent from the Central Otago District Council, is located to the south of Ranfurly on the Lammermoor Range, about 70 km north-west of Dunedin. The consent decision allows for the full proposal of 176 turbines generating up to 630 megawatts – that is enough energy to power the equivalent of all the homes in the Otago region, as well as the cities of Dunedin and Christchurch.
 
Dr Keith Turner said getting the approval was great news for renewable energy projects in New Zealand and would be a big boost to the Government’s renewable energy goals, however he did voice concerns over what happens next.
 
“This project has the potential to be a world class wind farm. It also has the potential to address the sudden security of supply problem facing the South Island, which was created when Transpower unexpectedly closed down one half of the Cook Strait transmission link recently,” said Dr Turner.                       

“The Government’s New Zealand Energy Strategy clearly identified the importance of a reliable national grid if it is to achieve the target of 90 percent renewables by 2025,” said Dr Turner.  
 
Dr Turner expressed concern that the HVDC link between the North and South islands is being poorly managed.
 
“Not only is the charging regime unfair to South Island generators, it disadvantages new South Island generation projects – making them more expensive at the very time South Island security of supply is under real generation pressure.
 
“We are also told that if the link is upgraded, South Island generators will have the cost imposed on them even when the upgrade is needed to bring power south,” said Dr Turner.
 
Project Hayes is the fourth wind farm consent approved for Meridian at local authority level, following on from Te Apiti in the Manawatu, White Hill in Southland and Project West Wind in Wellington.
 
The project is named after engineer and inventor Eben Ernest Hayes, one of the first New Zealanders to recognise and harness the commercial application of wind power in Central Otago.  
 

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