But consent for the project will lapse later this month. For the extension to be granted, Meridian had to show it had made substantial progress or effort on the project, had approval from persons who might be adversely affected by its granting, and that it fitted with the objectives of Rangitikei's district plan.
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The Environment Court originally said that the wind farm was producing noise levels that breached its resource consent conditions. The council had sought a declaration from the court on whether Te Rere Hau complied with the noise conditions of its resource consent.
Meridian Energy has been given a further 12 months to start work on a proposed wind farm between Taihape and Waiouru. The company received resource consent in February 2009 for a 52-turbine project called Central Wind. A condition of the consent was that the company had five years to start work on the project.
Speculation that plans to establish a wind farm near Moawhango will go ahead now that Meridian Energy has dropped plans for a wind farm in Central Otago have been quashed.
More than $300 million has been spent on wind farms in the past 18 months, and a dozen more projects – more than 200 megawatts of potential capacity – wait in the wings as turbine prices have fallen as much as 20 per cent in the past couple of years.
Operating and maintenance costs for wind farms using large turbines were up to 4 per cent of the project price, he said. Project West Wind cost $440 million, meaning the running costs would be over $17 million a year.
It has not committed to its next generation project in New Zealand. But it was likely to be one of two projects that have already gained consent, or another near to getting consent. Meridian has a consent for the 120MW Central Wind project, near Waiouru, and for a project in Hawke's Bay which could be up to 127MW.