Mill Creek development boost for economy

Wednesday 15 August 2012, 12:10PM
By Phil Heatley

Meridian Energy’s Mill Creek wind farm near Wellington is a welcome boost to the local economy and will be a significant contributor to future renewable energy, Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley says.

The Minister took part in a sod-turning ceremony and iwi blessing marking the start of construction of the new 26-turbine wind farm in Ohariu Valley, north-west of Wellington, this morning.

“This project will have significant and wide-ranging benefits to the Wellington region,” he said.

“Up to 900 people will be involved in the $169 million construction project. Once completed, Mill Creek is expected to have an annual operating cost of $3.3 million. This will include maintenance and operations that will benefit the local economy in the form of skills and jobs.

“The skills and expertise are exportable too. New Zealand is building a globally recognised track record in wind energy – this provides us with a real opportunity to be a world leader in wind farm developments.”

Wind generation has grown quickly as a source of New Zealand’s electricity generation, at an average of 30 per cent a year over the past decade. It now accounts for nearly 5 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity supply. With over 3,000 MW of wind projects consented, the role of the industry is expected to grow further in the coming years.

The Mill Creek wind farm is expected to be very efficient, operating at full capacity almost half of the time – well above the 35 per cent for the average New Zealand wind farm. Once completed in mid-2014, Mill Creek will generate enough renewable electricity to power approximately 30,000 homes a year.