Mighty River asks Govt to call in new wind farm scheme

State-owned Mighty River Power is asking Government to fast-track its application to build a 131-turbine wind farm near Palmerston North.

The environment minister can "call in" a proposal if it is deemed to be of national significance and direct the matter to either a board of inquiry or the Environment Court.

Last week Environment Minister Trevor Mallard said he was calling in Contact Energy's proposal for a 180-turbine 540-megawatt (MW) wind farm near Raglan.

Today Mighty River said it had submitted a formal application to the Ministry of the Environment about the applicability of the ministerial intervention provisions to the Turitea development.

The company has said Turitea would have up to 131 turbines and generate up to 360MW of power which would be enough for up to 150,000 houses.

Mighty River Power group strategist Neil Williams said recent experience with wind farm developments across the country showed such applications tended to be heard by the Environment Court following a local process.

"Recognising this, we think that the one step consideration offered by the call in process is an efficient way for the matters to be heard, both in time and cost, for the community, the councils and Mighty River Power," he said.

Might River also said today that a new geothermal power station near Kawerau was officially handed over to its operations team from principal construction contractor Sumitomo.

The $300 million station was fully operational ahead of time, under budget and capable of generating at a higher-than-expected capacity of 100MW, Mighty River said.

The project was the largest single geothermal development in this country in more than 20 years, with its output meeting about a third of residential and industrial demand in the eastern Bay of Plenty.

The aim had been for the station to be completed by the start of October and had been expected to generate 90MW.

Chief executive Doug Heffernan said the station was first successfully connected and supplied power into the national transmission grid two months ahead of schedule during early generation commissioning activities in late June.

It had relieved some of the pressure on hydro storage at the time, said Heffernan.

The Kawerau geothermal field was considered capable of further development.

The new station is built on industrial land owned by the area's largest electricity user Norske Skog Tasman.

In a further geothermal development, Mighty River Power started pre-construction work for Nga Awa Purua, a $450m 132MW geothermal power station at Rotokawa in April in partnership with the Tauhara North No 2 Trust.

- NZPA

Mighty River's Wind Farm plans, click here

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