Crown submission favours Project Hayes

[comment caption=Is wind the way forward?]Meridian Energy's proposed $1.5 billion Project Hayes wind farm in Central Otago has beneficial implications for the whole country, an Environment Court appeal hearing for the development was told yesterday.

Crown counsel Malcolm Parker, of Wellington, said an all-of-Government submission in support of Project Hayes was lodged by the Crown as the development would help New Zealand reach its future objectives in terms of climate change, renewable energy, and increased energy supply to meet demand.

"The proposed wind farm has implications for New Zealand's international obligations under the Kyoto protocol.

"Other positive national effects of the proposed project's significant use of wind energy include the implications for matters such as New Zealand's future ability to fulfill its ever-increasing energy demands," he said.

The Crown has set a target to have 90% of the nation's elec-tricity generated by renewable resources by 2025.

Mr Parker said the Government's submission for Project Hayes was the second of its kind, as an all-of-Government submission in support of an electricity generation project under the Resource Management Act 1991.

A similar submission was made in support of TrustPower's $400 million Mahinerangi wind farm, which was granted consent last month.

In his submissions, Mr Parker said the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Economic Development, Department of Conservation, Land Information New Zealand, Department of Internal Affairs, Te Puni Kokiri, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Treasury, and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet were involved in drafting the submission.

He said four witnesses to be called by the Crown would give evidence about the national benefits of Project Hayes.

"Project Hayes is a matter of national significance because there is widespread public interest in regard to its likely effect on the environment, it involves significant use of natural and physical resources, and it has effects on more than one district or region."

Transpower planning and development manager David Boyle gave evidence as the first Crown witness yesterday afternoon, about the national transmission system, transmission planning, and the economic benefits of proposed transmission investments.

During cross-examination by Meridian counsel Andrew Beatson, Mr Boyle said if Project Hayes being built without a transmission upgrade resulted in the spill of 404 GW hours in 2009 and 293 GW hours in 2017, it would be a large amount of energy spill.

He agreed such spill would likely result in the upgrade of the transmission grid.

"Given that a large amount of spill may be there with additional generation, then that would tend to justify upgrades on the grid.

From a commercial point of view, I would think if the generators can't get their product to market it would deter them from investing," Mr Boyle said.

He said Transpower was at present undertaking a grid investment test as an economic analysis, the results of which would give the company a clear scope of what, if any, upgrade of the transmission grid was required, and where.


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