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Grants linked to wind farm

Source: 
Whanganui Chronicle

The owners of Waipipi Wind Farm have opened applications to join a committee to distribute its $25,000 annual fund for community projects.

“The committee will be made up of civic-minded community members who have a good understanding of the area’s demographics, its socio-economic challenges and where additional support may be required,” project manager Stewart Reid said.

The search for committee members comes as the project to build the 31-turbine wind farm on the South Taranaki coast between Waverley and Pātea draws to a close.

All the turbines were working by the end of February, and the building contractors and their equipment have left.

The site is now being rehabilitated, with topsoil added, grass seed planted and fences put up.

Three fulltime Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy staff will remain on site to maintain the wind farm for 30 years.

Tilt Renewables is installing a site viewing and public parking area at the end of Dryden Rd. It will have information about the area’s cultural history, and about the wind farm and its technology.

An open day will be held in spring, when people can get close to the turbines and talk to staff.

While all this is going on, the ownership of the wind farm is in the process of changing, Reid says.

All of Tilt’s consent and landowner obligations will transfer to the new owner.

Tilt Renewables never used to be a developer that flicked on assets, Reid said. It always owned and operated them.

That changed when two-thirds owner Infratil wanted to review its assets last year. Several organisations made offers for Tilt Renewables, and the successful bidders have split the business in two. Its Australian assets are being bought by Powering Australian Renewables (PowAR) and its New Zealand ones are being bought by Tilt’s 20 per cent owner, Mercury New Zealand (formerly Mighty River Power).

Those New Zealand assets are two Tararua wind farms, Mahinerangi in Otago and Waipipi in South Taranaki.

Tilt Renewables’ four New Zealand staff have been told they can now work for Mercury. It is a state-owned enterprise that has nine hydroelectric dams on the Waikato River, five geothermal power stations in the central North Island and is building a new wind farm at Turitea.

That may not be a big change for those four people, Reid said. “Mercury have obviously got a pipeline of projects. It may mean another project gets off the ground quicker than we would have done.”

The lengthy sale process is expected to be finished in August.

 

● Interested people can go to waipipiwindfarm@tiltrenewables.com to apply to join the committee, the May newsletter of the owner, Tilt Renewables, said.

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