ELECTRICITY

Wind powers Manawatu forward – but at what pace?

Friday 11 February 2011, 3:15PM
By New Zealand Wind Energy Association
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MANAWATU-WHANGANUI

“The Board of Inquiry’s draft decision for Turitea wind farm provides the opportunity for wind to continue powering the Manawatu economy. But it also highlights the challenge cities face when balancing energy needs with amenity values,” says Fraser Clark, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association.

The wind farms in the Manawatu harness a world leading wind resource to generate cost-competitive electricity.

They also pump an estimated $8 to $11 million directly into the Manawatu economy, providing opportunities for a wide range of businesses including hotels, equipment and service suppliers, and engineering firms.

“Turitea wind farm would make use of that same wind resource and provide further opportunities for Manawatu businesses. But this opportunity may now be threatened by the Board’s decision to reduce the scale of the project,” say Mr Clark.

“Cities are great consumers of energy, but generally poor in energy resources. Palmerston North is a rare example of a city with ready access to a renewable resource that can provide a low cost and secure supply of electricity. None-the-less the Manawatu region is still a net importer of electricity.

“At some point essential infrastructure must connect to people and communities. Finding an appropriate environmental balance is difficult. Electricity use comes with consequences – be they economic, environmental or social.

“The decision raises questions about whether we have the right decision-making framework in place to ensure our future access to secure and low-cost electricity that has minimal environmental impacts. We await the outcomes of the Government’s reforms of the Resource Management Act, which seek to enable important infrastructure development,” concludes Mr Clark.