Meridian Energy will soon start to construct Mill Creek, a 26-turbine wind farm north west of Wellington city. Meridian Chief Executive Mark Binns says the time is right to build the project. “We have a strong pipeline of development options in New Zealand. Mill Creek will make a valuable contribution to our renewable generation portfolio and is another example of renewable energy meeting the country’s future energy needs.
“At an estimated $169 million to construct and with an annual average operating cost of $3.3 million, Mill Creek is a very strong commercial proposition,” says Mr Binns.
“We believe the combination of the wind farm’s relatively small size, location and compelling economics sets a benchmark for the industry.”
Meridian’s wind development team was able to take best advantage of a number of external factors to advance the project, including the strong kiwi dollar, an easing of steel prices and highly competitive turbine technology and construction industries. The Mill Creek site benefits from a world class wind resource, harnessing the ‘roaring 40s’ wind from the Cook Strait. The funneling effect of Cook Strait means the site has strong and consistent wind speeds, making it an ideal place for a wind farm.
“Mill Creek will earn its place alongside its neighbouring West Wind farm as one of the most productive wind farms in the world,” says Mr Binns.
“The project will extend the contribution of renewable energy from the city to the wider Wellington region. Between West Wind and Mill Creek we will produce enough energy to power the equivalent of 100,000 average New Zealand homes.
“Mill Creek will also make a contribution to the forecast 1.2% 2 per annum growth in electricity demand over the next 10 years,” adds Mr Binns.
Mill Creek wind farm will be located on privately-owned farms in Ohariu Valley. The landowners selected Meridian to develop and operate the wind farm due to its strong track record of developing and constructing renewable projects. Meridian applied for resource consents in 2009, which were granted by the Wellington and Porirua City Councils and Wellington Regional Council in 2010. The consents were appealed to the Environment Court in 2011 and gained approval in August 2011. Mill Creek will produce on average 235 GWh of power per annum, that’s enough electricity to power the equivalent of 30,000 average New Zealand homes each year. Preparatory civil works will start in the next two months with full power expected mid-2014.