Aug/Sep 2015 News
Blueskin Energy Project Column – September 2015
We are hard at work on the many elements of the wind development. I’m always surprised however to learn of people living in Blueskin Bay who didn’t know there was a plan to build our own wind generation. But some of you may have heard the story on National Radio’s “Our Changing World” in July (link here: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ourchangingworld/audio/201764146/a-community-wind-farm-for-blueskin-bay). I recommend it if you didn’t catch it. Radio NZ reporter Alison Balance gathered a wide spectrum of perspectives and wove them all together. The end result tells the story far more clearly than any of us involved in the proposed development could ever do in so short space of time. So if somehow you haven’t picked up the message that there’s a community led project to develop community scale wind at Blueskin Bay, then Radio NZ provides a really good introduction…
Meanwhile the recent announcement of an extension of the Tiwai Point agreement (for provision of electricity to the aluminium smelter), and the announcement by Genesis Energy of the closure of its last two coal burning generators at the Huntly Power Station by December 2018 have helped settle the electricity sector and stabilise the market. Following on closely, Contact Energy has also announced it will to close down its 400MW gas-fired power station, Otahuhu-B, at the end of September. These are all important bits of news for our project as it means that it now becomes simpler to enter into meaningful market negotiations for the sale of electricity from our proposed development. There are a growing number of large consumers who are looking ahead and see that the price on carbon is likely to rise significantly. As a consequence they are interested in low emission electricity, which is exactly what we plan to produce through the Blueskin wind development. (There is a carbon cost to building a wind farm – in steel towers, concrete foundations primarily – but this cost is low compared to other forms of electricity). Our charitable company Blueskin Wind Ltd has secured full access to the site for the development, so now we move on to seek the appropriate permissions and consents.
Over this past month Sean Barnes from our support partner the Akina Foundation visited us and I spent time with Sean going over the geo-technical elements of the project, and getting into more detailed project planning. We have done a lot of ground work on this project and have a good sense of what is required now, and we are very pleased to have a range of expert reports and a great deal of pro bono assistance from many people with experience in building wind farms. This assistance is vital as we move forward…
While the wind development aims to generate more than the Blueskin community’s total electricity consumption demand annually, supply will be variable, and this is why it is important, if we are to build a resilient electricity system over time, for the solar PV installations to continue, as solar and wind work complement each other.
To stay in touch with developments, subscribe to our BRCT update via our website: www.brct.org.nz or pop into the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati. Telephone enquiries can be made on 4822048.