The Dunedin City Council is "open to the idea" of buying
electricity from a community group planning to erect a $5
million windmill cluster in Blueskin Bay, and is investigating
if such a move would be viable.
The Blueskin Bay Energy Trust plans to erect four turbines
capable of generating 5.2GWh of energy each year on Porteous
Hill, which is above the village of Warrington.
The trust's project manager, Scott Willis, said the plan,
which would cost about $5 million, was at a key stage in its
development, and in September the trust would be asking how
much the 1000 or so homeowners in the Blueskin Bay area would
be willing to invest in the project.
The trust was also seeking a memorandum of understanding with
the council, which could see the council buying electricity
produced by the turbines to power council-owned
Council energy manager Neville Auton said the council was
"open to the idea" of buying electricity from the trust.
The council had done some preliminary work to see if such a
move would be viable and Mr Auton was preparing a report to
the council, which, if approved, would lead to a more
thorough investigation. The report would probably be finished
in the next couple of weeks, Mr Auton said.
Among the issues the council was looking at was whether
buying electricity from the project would be financially
"We don't want to be imposing additional costs on the
ratepayer on the basis that we are buying electricity at a
higher rate than we can buy it off [other providers]."
However, he said the council was keen to support what was a
Mr Willis said if the trust was able to sign a power purchase
agreement with the council, it would eliminate some of the
risks associated with trading on the electricity market,
which was designed for large-scale generators.
The project aligned with the council's sustainability focus,
and the concerns about climate change and peak oil identified
in its draft spatial plan, he said.
He said the project was progressing well, and "more than a
year" of wind data collection at Porteous Hill had shown
erecting wind turbines at the site was financially viable.
If completed, it would be the first community-owned wind
turbine cluster in New Zealand.