Pioneer Generation chief executive Fraser Jonker celebrates
the opening of the Mt Stuart wind farm, while landowner Rob
Hewett, Pioneer Generation chairman Allan Kane, and Central
Lakes Trust chairman Eion Edgar watch. Photo by Peter
Pioneer Generation's Mt Stuart wind farm is officially
open and producing energy, despite a snowy start.
About 5cm of snow settled on the Mt Stuart wind farm
yesterday, prompting Pioneer Generation to hold its official
opening in the Waitahuna Hall instead of on-site. More than
100 people attended.
Pioneer Generation chief executive Fraser Jonker said the
project was completed ahead of schedule, and the company was
pleased with the support from the community during the
He said Pioneer Generation was looking at six sites for
possible wind farms, with most of the testing stations in
Clutha, with one on the Clutha-Gore border, and another in
The Mt Stuart wind farm uses nine 850kW wind-turbine
generators, each with a three-bladed rotor 52m in diameter,
and a tower height of 45m. They are expected to each produce
2845MWh of electricity a year.
They start producing power when the wind speed reaches
14.5kmh, gaining maximum power at wind speeds above 61kmh.
Resource consent was granted in 2010 for the 7.65MW wind farm
on the southwestern side of the Manuka Gorge. It aimed to
produce enough electricity to meet the annual energy needs of
about 3350 homes.
Farmer Rob Hewett, who owns the Mt Stuart land, said the wind
farm was great for everyone, especially the community. He
said he floated the idea for a wind farm in 2004, and began
measuring wind for a few years, before a larger testing
station was created. Later, the site was considered to be
viable for a wind farm.
"There's 3000 homes getting power from here - all used
locally. It's great for the community, great for everyone
really. It's a bit like eating your own veges."
Power generated at the site was used in Balclutha and Milton
as well as the area surrounding Mt Stuart.
Mr Jonker said the energy generated by the wind farm was not
fed in to the power grid.
Pioneer Generation, based in Alexandra, is 100% owned by the
Central Lakes Trust. It owns and operates 13 hydro-electric
power stations and one wind farm in Central Otago and
Mr Jonker said the company was still looking into hydro
development, with a probable 50/50 split between hydro and
The opening was held in conjunction with Global Wind Day, an
annual international celebration of wind energy in 40
Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley yesterday welcomed
two significant wind energy milestones - the opening of the
Mt Stuart wind farm, and Meridian Energy's announcement work
on the Mill Creek wind farm north of Wellington will start
"New Zealand's wind resources are among the best in the
world, and the role of wind energy for electricity generation
is steadily increasing," Mr Heatley said.