Wednesday 15 August 2012
Meridian Energy has turned the first sod on Mill Creek, its 26-turbine wind farm north west of Wellington City.
Work on the wind farm commenced last month on an access road through Spicer Forest for wind farm traffic. Construction of the wind farm is expected to take 30 months.
Today Energy and Resources Minister Honourable Phil Heatley and Meridian Chairman Chris Moller turned the first sod with representatives from the Port Nicholson Block Trust and Ngati Toa, who represent local iwi.
Meridian Chief Executive Mark Binns says the ceremony was also a chance to celebrate the start of construction with the landowners, whose properties the 18km2 wind farm would be located on.
“It’s great to acknowledge their support and important to remember they were the ones who came up with the idea of building a wind farm on their properties over 10 years ago. They then chose Meridian to build and operate it.
Landowner Gavin Bruce says a group of four landowners and a long time Ohariu Valley resident formed a corporation called Wind Corp Limited in 2001 to develop their idea of farming wind in the area.
“We identified wind farming as a way of maintaining the viability of our Ohariu Valley farms. We sought tenders to develop the wind farm and chose Meridian because of its reputation for doing this well.”
Mark Binns says the time is right to build Mill Creek, which is estimated to cost $169 million to construct, with an annual average operating cost of $3.3 million, “We have a strong pipeline of development options in New Zealand. Mill Creek will make a valuable contribution to our renewable generation portfolio and is another example of renewable energy meeting the country’s future energy needs.”
The Mill Creek site benefits from a world class wind resource, harnessing the ‘roaring 40s’ wind from the Cook Strait. The funneling effect of Cook Strait means the site has strong and consistent wind speeds, making it an ideal place for a wind farm.
Meridian applied for resource consents in 2009, which were granted by the Wellington and Porirua city councils and Wellington Regional Council in 2010. The consents were appealed to the Environment Court in 2011 and gained approval in August 2011.
Siemens is supplying the 2.3MW turbines, which will produce on average 235 GWh of power per annum, that’s enough electricity to power the equivalent of 30,000 average New Zealand homes each year. Full power at Mill Creek is expected in mid-2014.
For further information contact:
021 225 9624
About Meridian Energy
Meridian Energy is an integrated renewable energy company; the largest generator in New Zealand, with a strong pipeline of development options in Australasia; and an electricity retailer throughout New Zealand.
Meridian and its online subsidiary Powershop retail electricity to approximately 290,000 connections − homes, farms and businesses throughout New Zealand. Meridian received the highest customer satisfaction ratings of all the major national retailers, and Powershop was rated first overall, as voted by customers in two independent surveys1 carried out in 2011.
The Meridian Energy Group includes a parent company Meridian Energy, subsidiary businesses in Australia and the USA and other innovative New Zealand investments that complement our core activities as an electricity generator and retailer. In total the Group employs approximately 775 people and has offices in Wellington, Christchurch and Twizel, and, internationally, in Melbourne, Australia, and San Francisco, California.
Meridian generates electricity from renewable sources − wind and water in New Zealand; wind in Australia; and solar in the USA. The company supplies thirty per cent of New Zealand’s total electricity needs, including to the country’s largest consumer, the New Zealand Aluminum Smelter, near Bluff. Meridian owns and operates seven hydro stations, six within the Waitaki Hydro Scheme, and four wind farms throughout New Zealand.
In Australia, Meridian owns and operates Mt Millar wind farm and is partnering with AGL Energy to build the Macarthur wind farm, which, at 420 megawatts, will be the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere. The company also built the world’s southernmost wind farm at Ross Island in Antarctica, in partnership with Antarctica New Zealand. Meridian’s solar farm, CalRENEW-1, was the first grid-connected solar farm to be built in California, and the company is using that expertise to build the first solar farm in Tonga.
Meridian’s pipeline of renewable development projects includes options at different stages of investigation and consent. The Australasian development pipeline equates to more than 1,000 megawatts.
Meridian’s commitment to renewable energy, environmental stewardship and support for the communities living alongside its assets makes it authentically sustainable. Meridian continually looks for ways to provide positive energy solutions to customers to help them reduce their energy use.
The Meridian Energy Group is one of the state-owned enterprises included in the Government’s proposed Mixed Ownership Programme.
Consumer. Energy provider survey results, 28 July 2011. Available at http://www.consumer.org.nz/reports/energy-providers/survey-results
Fair Go/Colmar Brunton Best in service poll – power companies, 19 October 2011.
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