Work is set to start next month on Mill Creek, a 26-turbine wind farm north of the West Wind farm in the Ohariu Valley.
Meridian Energy says the project will take around 30 months with full power expected mid-2014. Siemens will supply and erect the wind turbines.
Meridian chief executive Mark Binns said the time was right to forge ahead.
“At an estimated $169 million to construct and with an annual average
operating cost of $3.3 million, Mill Creek is a very strong commercial
proposition,” he said.
The Mill Creek site would harness the ‘roaring 40s’ wind from the Cook Strait, he said, and the funneling effect of Cook Strait meant the site has strong and consistent wind speeds, making it an ideal place for a wind farm.
“Between West Wind and Mill Creek we will produce enough energy to power the equivalent of 100,000 average New Zealand homes."
The Mill Creek wind farm site is located on privately-owned farms in Ohariu Valley north of Wellington.
But not everyone is pleased about the impending wind farm.
Ohariu Valley Preservation Society president Siobhan Lilley told the Dominion Post the group had run out of avenues to fight the project, but opposition remained as strong, with the proposed turbines located much too close to residents' homes.
Meridian originally applied for consent to the Wellington City Council in 2008, which was issued in 2009. It was then granted resource consent in August 2011 by the Environment Court for 26 of 31 turbines.
"Growth in wind generation will create new business and employment opportunities,'" said Eric Pyle, chief executive of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association.
"A cluster of businesses have developed skills and expertise in wind energy as the Manawatu wind farms expanded, and some of these businesses now export services and skills overseas. Mill Creek will further increase the opportunities in the industry.
"Last year over US$280 billion was invested in clean energy globally, and $84 billion of that was in wind. There is huge potential for New Zealand businesses that develop niche skills and products from their experience with our tremendous wind resource."
Meanwhile, Genesis Energy has also been given approval for a major wind farm in the Wairarapa – the Castle Hill wind farm would house 267 turbines. But the scope of the project has been scaled back – the turbines must be no more than 135m high, with more than 50 of the turbines required to be no taller than 115m.
Genesis initially applied to build 286 turbines of 135m, or 242 turbines of 155m.