Mt Maungatua wind-farm proposal grows 25%

A proposed 40-turbine wind farm on a ridge behind Mt Maungatua above the Taieri Plain has been increased in size by 25% into a $50 million project which would produce enough power for 11,250 homes.

In March last year, Windpower Maungatua Ltd announced its proposal to build a 40-turbine, 20MW wind farm on a second ridge well back from the Mt Maungatua face which overlooks the plain, with power output for about 9000 households.

However, Windpower Maungatua director Dave Tucker said yesterday a second ridge, a few hundred metres below the present site but on the same farm block, had been identified and a further 10 turbines could be sited there.

It could produce a total 25MW of power from 50 turbines, he said.

The company was still consulting with affected parties but hoped to make a publicly notified resource consent application soon, with a hearing date "ideally" set before the end of the year, he said.

Listed NZ Windfarms, whose other interests include development of an $80 million 97-turbine development in the North Island, this April increased its 16.7% stake in Windpower Maungatua to 50% for an undisclosed sum, buoyed by promising feasibility results.

A bladeless 50m mast had recently been installed at the Maungatua site to collect more wind data.

NZ Windfarms chief executive Chris Freear has been in Dunedin at the Windpower Maungatua information stand at the New Zealand International Science Festival which ended on Sunday.

Yesterday, he said about 90% of the work on the proposed project would be sought from New Zealand interests, including the turbines built by Windflow Technology Ltd, of Christchurch.

He said two projects - the North Island and Maungatua projects - would be financed by NZ Windpower, which raised $75 million when it listed.

Earlier this month, NZ Windfarms placed a 30m-high monitoring mast on a Mt Stuart farm in South Otago, 16km northwest of Milton, to gather more data to support its plans for a 10-turbine wind farm, with pre-mast wind-testing described as "promising".

Mr Freear said similar consultation was just beginning in the area and any proposal on Mt Stuart was likely to be several months behind the Maungatua project.

Other parts of the South Island were being scouted as potential locations, but he declined to reveal where.


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