Library filed under General from Australia / New Zealand

Government showing no leadership over wind farms

Transpower system operations manager Kieran Devine has revealed that three major farms, located around the Manawatu Gorge, supplied less than 1% of their capacity during peak load periods during each of the past three winters. The three farms generating from wind around the Manawatu Gorge are: Trustpower's Tararua (134 turbines), NZ Wind Farms' Te Rere Hau (104), Meridian Energy's Te Apiti (55). "Either there was insufficient wind at that time, or the current farms are all in the wrong locations and there's not enough wind system diversity," Mr Devine said in an interview with the Taranaki News. "We have real concerns about the large amount of wind generation planned in the lower North Island, because the preliminary information is that they will all have very similar characteristics to the Manawatu farms and that won't help with winter peaks. We'd prefer they were spread around so that when one's up others will be down and it would balance itself out."
13 Jun 2008

Govt company's ‘carbon neutral’ claim greenwash

“The fine print on Meridian’s website says it has to purchase power off the grid from thermal generators to supply its customers during dry years, but claims these are offset by the purchase of carbon credits. These notionally avoided incremental emission units are being purchased from projects like Trust Power’s Tararua wind farm. “The idea that Meridian can magically convert thermal electricity into ‘certified carbon-neutral electricity’ by buying these sorts of carbon units is modern day hocus-pocus. ...“My worry with this sort of false advertising is that it creates the impression we don’t need thermal electricity in New Zealand. The reality is that there are times of drought, and when wind does not blow, when thermal power is the only way we can keep the lights on.
13 Jun 2008

Stock plunge strikes Babcock & Brown

Australia's second-biggest home-grown investment bank, Babcock & Brown, has been forced into emergency talks with its bankers following a massive share price plunge that put it in breach of loan agreements. Shares in the company collapsed by 28 per cent yesterday, slicing its stock market value to $2.3 billion in the kind of selling frenzy that in the past year has crippled companies such as ABC Learning Centres and the Allco Finance Group. The plunge forced Babcock into talks with the bankers behind a $2.8 billion loan. ...Last night, as Babcock moved into damage control, the group stood by its forecast of a full-year profit of $750 million and insisted that it could put its share price woes behind it. There is widespread belief that Babcock must move to rein in its high debt levels and re-focus its business model if it is to survive. Mr Lowensohn admitted yesterday that across the group, leverage - the level of debt to the level of equity in the business - would be about 60 per cent. "We will be looking directionally to lower gearing," he said. Three weeks of heavy selling, including shortselling by hedge funds, has halved the company's share price and exposed the covenant on the loan. The trigger was Babcock's market capitalisation falling below $2.5 billion.
12 Jun 2008

Wind farms don't ease power peak

National electricity grid operator Transpower has revealed that turbines on the three Manawatu farms have been generating at less than 1% of their capacity during winter evening peaks for the past three years. Bernhard Voll, the technical brains behind the 45-turbine Waverley project for Australian company Allco Financial Group, says this farm will probably perform no differently, because of a lack of wind at winter peak times, but it was a small issue. "Wind farms are not designed to be peaking plants," he said. "The issue is that wind farms displace fossil-fired power generation and contribute to the nation's energy demand throughout the year. Picking on a singular issue of peak demand contribution is misleading."
11 Jun 2008

Legal threat to Victorian wind project

The much-delayed Bald Hills wind farm in Victoria faces a new hurdle, with opponents threatening a High Court challenge to try to scuttle the contentious project. Ownership of the proposed wind farm - notorious for being rejected because of a perceived threat to the orange-bellied parrot - has been sold to the Australian arm of the Japanese company Mitsui. The proposed cost of the project has blown out to $300million, with the wind farm now scheduled to operate from 2011, five years after former environment minister Ian Campbell caved in and belatedly approved the project.
10 Jun 2008

Wind farm opponents still seeking answers

Opponents to the proposed Tuki wind farm at Smeaton believe the project may not go ahead. Wind Power wants to erect at least 19 turbines in the area. But the Spa Country Landscape Guardians group says the company is failing to answer questions about the project. ...But the company's spokesman, Ross Richards, says little more can be done on the project until the Federal Government reveals its carbon and emissions trading plans.
9 Jun 2008

Anger at sale of wind farm to Japanese firm

The South Gippsland residents group has slammed a decision to sell the controversial Bald Hills wind farm project at Tarwin Lower to a Japanese company. ...Tarwin Valley Coastal Guardians spokesman Tim Le Roy said he was disappointed that the Japanese company Mitsui had acquired the wind farm project through its Australian subsidiary. And he expressed surprise Mitsui had not spoken to the residents group yet about its plans. "Our rural landscape is getting sold off to foreign companies," he said. "It just doesn't seem to make sense to sell off our landscapes ... to the benefit of a Japanese trading house."
9 Jun 2008

Japanese firm buys up wind project

The much-delayed Bald Hills wind farm in Victoria, notorious for being rejected due to a perceived threat to the orange-bellied parrot, has been sold to Japanese interests. And the proposed cost of the project has blown out to $300million, with the wind farm now scheduled to operate from 2011, five years after former environment minister Ian Campbell caved in and belatedly approved the project. Japanese company Mitsui has acquired 100 per cent of the shares of Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd, a special-purpose company that held the development rights for the planned 52-turbine project near the southern Victorian town of Wonthaggi. Melbourne company Wind Power Pty Ltd confirmed the deal to The Australian.
9 Jun 2008

Wind Power denies Tuki project a "flop"

Wind Power has denied claims Tuki Wind Farm has "flopped", saying a decision on its future would be made at the end of the year. Wind farm opposition group Spa Country Landscape Guardians member Christian Wild this week said the project had ended and had struggled to overcome strong community rejection. "The project has been unable to gain momentum against increasing community opposition, protected landscapes and what has proven to be an insufficient wind resource at Stoney Rises, where the wind test tower is currently broken," Mr Wild said.
6 Jun 2008

Reliance on giant wind "Foolishness"

The Government backs Meridian's 176-turbine Project Hayes as a solution to such energy shortages, having made an All-Of-Government submission in support of the Central Otago wind farm proposal currently before the Environment Court. "Yet we are being provided with a graphic illustration here and now that reliance on wind power doesn't work," said Sydney, speaking from a becalmed Central Otago. "It has been a calm few months nationwide - especially so in Central - so the contribution of the country's eight existing wind farms in averting an imminent energy crisis has been very poor.
6 Jun 2008

Save Central group raises war-chest

Environment group Save Central has received an estimated $200,000 from the public since launching its national media campaign on Sunday. The money raised almost doubles the group's entire campaign funding, generated since its inception late last year. Spokesman Graye Shattky said the exact amount of funding generated since Sunday was not known, although it was close to, or possibly more than, $200,000. "That's what it cost us to get to this point, fighting Project Hayes in court. Now we are in a position where we have the same amount, if not more, to take us into the next phase," Mr Shattky said. He said Save Central will continue to campaign over energy issues and threatened landscapes after Project Hayes with any leftover funding.
5 Jun 2008

Gordon Rd still viewed as option

Trustpower has reiterated that it may truck 72-tonne machines through Mosgiel's main street to its inland wind farm. But the Dunedin City Council's transportation operations manager, Don Hill, cannot see how that can be done. The power company wants to use Gordon Rd, if the Taieri River bridge on Allanton Rd cannot be strengthened, to truck heavy parts of machinery to the wind-farm site at Mahinerangi. TrustPower community relations managerGraeme Purches said the company had never intended to use Riccarton Rd. ...Under the consent conditions for the wind farms, the companies had to consult local authorities and prepare a traffic management plan, and those discussions had not taken place, Mr Hill said.
4 Jun 2008

Wind farm a blow to rates?

Approval for a $200 million wind farm in Te Uku is a "slap in the face" for Wel Networks consumers who love their power rebates and community grants. That's the view of staunch wind farm opponent and candidate in this month's Wel Energy Trust election, Rodger Gallagher though Trust chairman Garry Mallett disagrees with his assessment. Mr Gallagher was still awaiting his copy of the commissioners' resource consent judgment which last week gave the green light to Wel's proposed wind farm, but said the project would be a very expensive white elephant.
3 Jun 2008

Sydney 'delighted' with Kirk's donations

Save Central president Grahame Sydney says his anti-wind farm group would welcome further donations similar to that made by businessman and former All Black captain David Kirk. Mr Kirk, chief executive of media company Fairfax Australia, used his personal funds to pay for the full-page advertisement in yesterday's Fairfax-owned Sunday Star Times newspaper, which launched the lobby group's national publicity campaign.
2 Jun 2008

Deal clears heavies off road

Two East Taieri groups have made deals with power companies that mean little of the heavy traffic for the proposed Project Hayes and Mahinerangi wind farms will travel on Riccarton Rd. The agreement appears to leave a Dunedin City Council decision to select Riccarton Rd as an arterial route in limbo. ...Residents have been concerned about the effects on their road of increased vehicle movements and the possibility of trucks weighing up to 125 tonnes and as long as 60m using it, if the company's Project Hayes wind farm is built. The council has identified Riccarton Rd as an arterial route for heavy traffic, and has plans to widen the road between Dukes Rd and State Highway 87, and strengthen pavement and build a bridle path on Riccarton and Dukes Rds. The cost was recently estimated at $6.9 million.
28 May 2008

Public rebuke for Historic Places Trust chief

A public meeting in Alexandra last night (21.05.08) called on the NZ Historic Places Trust Board to censure the Trust's senior management for ignoring local concerns regarding significant heritage issues in Central Otago, most contentiously Meridian Energy's proposal to build Project Hayes on the Old Dunstan Road. ..."Central Otago's valuable heritage, requires strong advocacy from groups capable of providing leadership on specific matters when necessary and not afraid to speak out publicly regarding the heritage aspects of statutory matters such as resource consent applications and plan changes. Because the Branch is not permitted to act independently in this regard, its reduced role might be likened rather to a ‘committee selling cakes to buy battleships'.
25 May 2008

Group analysing wind farm

A community group is analysing WestWind Energy's planning application for its proposed Lal Lal Wind Farm. The proposal involves a wind farm split into two sections; one at Lal Lal and another at Elaine. Lal Lal and Elaine Landscape Action Group are currently analysing the planning application with its experts. Group spokesman John McMahon, has expressed his concern at the size of the proposed wind farms and turbine size.
20 May 2008

Wind farm fight on air

A Gippsland resident has put up more than $15,000 of his own money for an advertising campaign against wind farms. Terry Vincent from Carrajung, north of Yarram, was spurred into action after hearing about Synergy Wind plans for a possible wind farm near his home. ...Mr. Vincent said each advertisement focused on a different aspect of wind farms including health concerns from the noise and light flicker, dangers to birds and bats, accidents, fires, visual amenity and greenhouse gases.
14 May 2008

Greens split on clean coal

Last month, a group of 25 environmental activists staged an impromptu demonstration outside the Sydney offices of yet another global organisation. But this time it wasn't a multinational mining or oil company that was the target, but the environment group WWF. They were protesting against WWF's decision to partner with the coal industry, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the environment think tank the Climate Institute in working to accelerate the development of carbon capture and storage technology, otherwise known as clean coal. This was just the latest exchange in the simmering brand war between Australia's two biggest green groups, WWF and Greenpeace, revealing the widening ideological divide between conservationists and activists of the founding denominations in the broad church of the environment movement.
12 May 2008
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