15 Jun 2012

Small windfarms fill South Island void

9:10 am on 15 June 2012

Small windfarm developers in the South Island say they are filling a void left by the dumping of big power projects.

In January, Meridian Energy shelved Project Hayes, a $2 billion wind farm for central Otago, and last month Contact Energy ditched plans for up to four new dams on the Clutha River.

The only developments are all small ones. Trustpower last year opened a wind farm of 12 turbines at Mahinerangi, inland from Dunedin. It is the third in Otago and Southland.

Production engineer, Mike Moeahu says the southern coastal strip between Dunedin and Bluff seems to be ideal for this.

A forum on the future of wind energy in Dunedin on Thursday night heard the big companies' losses are small generators' gains.

The forum was organised by the wind industry, which wants to supply 20% of all electricity by 2030.

Pioneer Generation will officially open its $17 million Mount Stuart windfarm on Friday.

Chief executive Fraser Jonker said his company used to run only hydro-dams, but its modest farm of nine turbines is the future.

He said the company has another windfarm planned for Bluff and seven other sites under testing.

And Blueskin Energy Project manager Scott Willis says the dream of a four windmill cluster to make 1000 homes in his area self-sufficient seems more possible now.