Construction of a wind farm that caused considerable angst 16 years ago when it was first proposed is set to start next month.
Mercury Energy will spend $115 million to build the first stage of the Kaiwera Downs wind farm near Gore.
The 10 turbines to be constructed will generate enough power to run 20,000 homes or 66,000 electric vehicles.
The turbines will be 145m high from the ground to the blade tip.
It is expected the project will take about a year.
Mercury Energy chief executive Vince Hawksworth said the company supported New Zealand’s decarbonisation goals.
"One of the most meaningful ways we can do this is through building and supplying more renewable power," he said.
"Stage one of the Kaiwera Downs wind farm is the next cab off the rank in our pipeline of new renewable generation."
A second tranche of the build will complete the 240MW that has been consented on the site, as the transition to a lower carbon economy progresses.
The construction of the wind farm had been staged so that after the 10 turbines were constructed, the rest could swiftly follow as the company assessed commercial conditions and other projects in the pipeline, he said.
Three of the turbines will be on Lester Dickie’s farm near Mataura.
Mr Dickie said he would keep ownership of the land.
"We only give consent for them to use our land."
The neighbours had been "good" about the project starting again, he said.
Trustpower first mooted the plan to build the wind farm in about 2007.
It was granted a Gore District Council resource consent in 2008.
Henry McFadzien’s farm shares a boundary with Mr Dickie’s farm.
In 2008, Mr McFadzien was the spokesman for the group which opposed the wind farm.
The neighbours were concerned the noise of the turbines would reduce the value of their farms, he said.
A petition was presented to the council.
"There were not too many for it."
However, nowadays people were reconciled to the presence of the turbines, he said.
"It is just something we will have to learn to live with."
Another group, the Upland Landscape Protection Society, lodged an appeal in the Environment Court to contest the granting of the resource consent, but later withdrew it.
In 2016, Tilt Renewables, the wind energy arm of Trustpower, became a separate entity, and in 2021 Mercury Energy bought the Tilt Renewables NZ assets, which included the Kaiwera Downs project and resource consents to build the project.
Originally it was proposed the wind farm would spread over 2568ha with a maximum of 83 turbines, and was expected to cost $400 million.
Kaiwera Downs (stage 1)
- Will cost $115m.
- Project is fully consented.
Construction to start next month and take a year.
- Kaiwera Downs wind farm will have capacity of 43MW, enough to power 20,000 homes or 66,000 electric vehicles.
- 10 turbines, each with 77m tower, 136m rotor and 145m tip height.
- Kaiwera Downs set to start producing power late next year.
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