Changes in wind for Blueskin energy project

A proposed wind farm project for Blueskin Bay would maintain its "community values" despite a recommendation to move toward a corporate governance structure.

About 40 residents attended a meeting this week to discuss the multimillion-dollar proposal, which aims to erect several turbines and, in a New Zealand first, make the 1000 homes in the area energy self-sufficient.

Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust manager Scott Willis, who is also the Blueskin Energy Project project manager, provided an update on the project at Monday night's meeting.

He told the Otago Daily Times the project aimed to retain community control and values, but "bring in necessary expertise and most importantly show that we can make it happen".

"We need to move beyond talk and into action, to make things into reality."

That included, on the recommendation of a legal firm, to move towards the corporate structure of a limited liability company, as a co-operative posed difficult legal questions concerning power generation, he said.

"The simplest structure is to use a company but to use it with the type of constitution that you might see in a co-operative."

A staged approach was recommended, which would include "taking on institutional investors when we need some additional capital".

A small number of people expressed concern over the involvement of companies, which "raised the red flag" to some residents, Mr Willis said.

Backing could potentially come from Port Otago and Pioneer Generation, but he stressed "no contracts had been signed".

Commercial investors would help reduce risk exposure and help underwrite the establishment phase, he said,Mr Willis said there was national interest in the project, and "people are watching what we do very closely".

hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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