19 May 2009

Contact seeks delay to Raglan windfarm hearing

12:54 pm on 19 May 2009

Contact Energy is seeking to delay a project the previous Government had agreed to fast-track.

The power company has asked the Board of Inquiry to postpone the hearing on its planned 180-turbine windfarm near Raglan for one year, so it can carry out more research and site work on Waikato's west coast.

An opponent of the windfarm, Ross Townshend, says the call-in system is for projects that are to be fast-tracked, and Contact's request for an adjournment should mean forfeiture of those rights.

He says the company should be made to apply for a resource consent like everybody else.

Contact says the delay does not undermine the call-in process, as the project is of national significance, and covers a number of regulatory bodies.

When Contact Energy sought the call-in from the previous Minister for the Environment, Trevor Mallard, it argued the project was necessary to achieve the previous government's goal of deriving 90% of electricity from sustainable sources.

Contact is currently appealing against a decision to turn down its $500 million windfarm development near Dannevirke, while it has yet to finalise its investment in the Te Mihi geothermal power plant near Taupo, as it grapples with higher material and funding costs.

Trustpower decision a year away

Trustpower says it will decide in about a year whether to proceed with large wind farm projects it has consent for in the South Island and Australia.

The electricity generator and retailer's chief executive, Keith Tempest, says the decision to proceed will be based mainly on economic fundamentals, such as the exchange rate and whether a carbon tax is introduced.

Trustpower says its profit rose 7% to $105 million in the year to the end of March, compared with the previous year.