Wind-power partner sought

The group hoping to put wind power into the houses around Blueskin Bay is looking for a joint-venture partner.

Waitati Energy Project co-ordinator Scott Willis said yesterday because of the financial and social challenges involved in setting up a wind turbine "only a community of madmen would go it alone".

Mr Willis presented a feasibility study to members of the group at a meeting on Wednesday night.

It showed five possible sites for a "wind cluster" of about three turbines. They are the Mopanui ridgeline, White Rd-Doctors Point, Mt Kettle, Double Hill and Omimi-Merton.

The chosen site would have to be near the grid and have "an adequate sound perimeter".

The wind turbines considered would be suitable for moderate winds and would produce between 750kW and 850kW - about a quarter the output of the biggest turbines used in New Zealand.

The feasibility study contained a scenario in which a secondhand turbine costing $1.24 million could return 10% per annum.

Mr Willis said there were at least 700 consumers in Blueskin Bay and that suggested an electricity market of at least $700,000 a year.

The next step was to consult the community and secure a joint venture with a generation company, he said.

The group has been in discussion with Pioneer Generation Ltd, which has a small wind farm in Central Otago at an elevation of 600m. Mt Cargill is 670m.

Mr Willis said the current policy environment made it virtually impossible to go ahead without a joint-venture partner.

He expected the community's involvement would be through a limited company or a co-operative, with profits passed on through cheaper power bills and the funding of community facilities.

- mark.price@odt.co.nz

 

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