16 October 2007
Contact unveils Waikato wind farm
Contact Energy Chief Executive David Baldwin today provided details of a new wind farm the company is developing on
farmland to the south of Port Waikato. The wind farm will be known as Hauāuru mā raki, meaning ‘north-west wind’.
David Baldwin said the proposed wind farm was strategically important as it was located in the North Island and close to
major load centres of Hamilton and Auckland. He said the final size of the wind farm was yet to be determined, but it
has the potential to be up to 650 megawatts (MW) depending on a number of factors including landowner agreements and
“We have been developing this project together with Wind Farm Group over the course of 2007 and have been pleased with
the response to this project from landowners and other stakeholders.
“Hauāuru mā raki is nationally significant both in terms of meeting New Zealand’s growth in demand for electricity and
for the development of clean, renewable electricity for current and future generations,” he said.
“This development is part of Contact’s investment programme in renewable electricity generation, which also includes
significant expansion of the company’s geothermal generation near Taupo.”
If the full 650 MW capacity of the project was developed, the project could produce enough electricity to power
approximately 250,000 homes and help avoid the production of around 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the
atmosphere per annum.
Mr Baldwin said Contact is continuing to defer investment decisions on its consented 400 MW Otahuhu C gas-fired power
station in order to focus on renewable generation. However, he noted that renewable projects needed to be actively
supported by efficient resource consenting processes, including greater use of call in powers, if the country was to
continue to avoid the need for new thermal plants.
“The vision of 90 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity coming from renewables now hinges to a large extent on the
ability to consent renewable projects without undue delay and connect them to the national transmission system. Active
support for renewables from regulatory agencies will be very important to this vision being realised.”
Mr Baldwin said the proposed site is suited to a wind farm as it has a good wind resource and the surrounding areas are
very lightly populated.
“We have been discussing this project with national and local stakeholders and are now looking to discuss the project
with interested members of the public. We’re committed to developing the project in a transparent fashion and to
engaging fully with the local community. 2
“We see this as a very positive development for the Waikato region, including for the landowners involved in the
project. We have been particularly pleased with the response from Maori landowners who have enthusiastically welcomed
Analysis conducted into the economic benefits of the wind farm suggests that in excess of $100 million could be injected
into the local Waikato economy over the approximately four to five year construction period, followed by millions of
dollars each year when the wind farm is operating. Around 450 jobs are likely to be created in the area during the
Mr Baldwin said although a great deal of progress had been made on the wind farm, there was more work to be done.
“We are continuing to negotiate further landowner agreements for the project, in addition to the technical work required
in order to file a resource consent application by the end of the year.”
Supporting wind with peaking capacity
Alongside the wind farm, Contact announced its intention to construct a flexible, fast-start 100 MW gas-fired peaking
plant at the company’s Stratford power station site to help support increasing levels of wind generation during demand
peaks and periods of low wind or hydro generation.
Mr Baldwin said Contact had welcomed the release of the New Zealand Energy Strategy last week and supported the
conclusion that renewables could substitute out large baseload thermal plant. “It is for this reason the option of
developing the company’s Otahuhu combined cycle baseload plant remains on hold while the company focuses on new wind and
geothermal projects,” he said.
“The Energy Strategy delineates between baseload and flexible thermal plant designed to support a high renewables
future. This new investment is the beginning of a transition to the types of thermal plant New Zealand will need to
achieve the Government’s target of 90 per cent renewable energy by 2025.
“To achieve the 90 per cent target over the next 15 - 20 years, older thermal plants would need to either close or move
into a back-up role. The more modern existing baseload gas plants would play the major thermal baseload role to the
extent that renewables could not provide that capacity.
“The new plant at Stratford will be very efficient and will run ahead of the existing New Plymouth gas-fired station.
New Plymouth is a slow start station. The new plant will mean New Plymouth will move more to a dry year reserve role.”
Mr Baldwin said the new peaking plant would likely cost around $140 million and could be operating by 2009.
More information on the proposed wind farm development is available on Contact’s website at www.contactenergy.co.nz/waikatowind