Third tower planned for Project Hayes

Meridian Energy has applied to build a third wind monitoring device as part of its planned $1.5 billion Project Hayes wind farm, claiming "you can never have too much data".

At the same time, Meridian is refusing to make public the data it has already compiled, saying it is commercially sensitive.

It also pointed out the wind farm is subject to an Environment Court appeal, which has been adjourned.

Meridian's resource consent application for another 80m device was received by the Central Otago District Council (CODC) on May 22, the second day of the appeal in Cromwell.

Meridian spokeswoman Claire Shaw said the timing of the application was normal and had not been affected by the hearing.

"It's just the way Meridian has chosen to do things. Generally, on such a big development as Project Hayes we look at the site resource first and the next stage is to add an anemometer to specifically gather all the data and information we need.

"You can never have too much data," she said.

Ms Shaw said the company already had two towers on site, and the extra one was needed to obtain further information.

Meridian had collected much data from its anemometers which suggested the Lammermoor Range was a "fantastic" wind resource.

The additional tower, which, if approved, will be 960m above sea level, will help Meridian determine the final design and wind generator turbine layout of the wind farm, she said.

Meridian was granted resource consent by the CODC and the Otago Regional Council last year to establish Project Hayes on top of the Lammermoor Range.

If built, it will be the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere.

However, it is being appealed by several groups, as well as residents and tourist operators.

One of those groups, Save Central, yesterday called on Meridian to release wind data gathered at its proposed site.

Spokesman Grahame Sydney said energy corporations had to produce hard data if the public was to believe claims about wind power.

By not releasing data, such companies were hiding the inefficiency of their wind farm plans, he said.

"They [energy companies] fudge and stall on providing meaningful wind monitoring data at controversial sites lest the public and Environment Court see through their claims that they will be powering thousands of homes with oft-becalmed turbines," he said.

Ms Shaw said, because the company's wind data was being discussed by the Environment Court, Meridian could not comment on, or publicly release, the information being requested.

The wind data was also commercially sensitive and, generally, Meridian would not publicly release such information, she said.

"We are in a competitive environment and it gives us a competitive advantage to keep that data to ourselves.

"We are in the business of providing New Zealanders with clean energy and of meeting the country's electricity demands," she said.

Energy Minister David Parker said in Alexandra yesterday he did not believe wind farms would eventually be dotted across the Central Otago landscape.

"We neither want, nor expect to see, a proliferation of wind farms all over the Otago mountains, but that doesn't mean to say there's not room for some wind farms in Otago and Southland and that's what the Environment Court is sorting out," he said.


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