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New Zealand

Meridian announces first NZ wind project in two years

NEW ZEALAND: The construction of the first major wind farm to be built in New Zealand for two years has been announced by Meridian Energy.

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The 60MW Mill Creek project, north of capital city Wellington, will start construction in August. It will be the first major wind farm start since Mahinerangi in September 2010.

Resource consent was granted for the 60MW project in August last year and it has since leapfrogged other proposed Meridian investments including the 130MW Central Wind further north.

Although Meridian has been talking up the attractive economics of the project for some months, others have questioned the need for new generation at a time when electricity demand growth has stagnated.

"Demand has been flat for the last five years," comments Jeremy Seed of Contact Energy, the country's second-largest generator. Contact are not currently pressing ahead with their own 504MW consented wind farm on the Waikato Coast.

Gains and losses

The announcement comes six months after Meridian dropped its application for a 633MW wind farm after a six-year permitting battle.

Project Hayes was proposed for the Lammermoor Range in Central Otago on the South Island. Meridian, the country’s largest electricity generator, submitted the application in 2006 and it was approved by the Central Otago and Otago Regional Councils in 2007.

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