Mt Cass is situated about 6km east of Waipara, North Canterbury. It captures a good and reliable wind resource and is very near the Waipara sub-station - which is a strong part of our network - and the national grid. It is also on a working farm and therefore much of the land has been modified by farming activity.
The wind farm will extend 6.5km along the ridge running north-east from Mt Cass. Because of its single ridgeline Mt Cass lends itself to a simple, single line of turbines, lessening the wind farm's visual and environmental impact.
Currently there is no electricity generation in our region. The power generated by the Mt Cass wind farm will be used locally, meaning our community will be less reliant on external sources for electricity.
Depending on the final size of the wind farm and the turbines used, Mt Cass wind farm will produce enough energy to power anywhere from 11,000 - 24,000 homes. There are approximately 4,000 homes in the Hurunui District.
It is estimated that during the two to three years of construction the wind farm will add between $22 million and $38 million to the regional economy. Over the 25 year life of the of the wind farm the regional economy will be better off by between $152 million and $316 million. Because some of the design and construction spend happens outside the region, the total national economic benefit of the windfarm is between $197 million and $363 million.
Generation of electricity locally is also expected to result in annual savings in transmission losses of up to $2.1 million - because it can be used close to the generation source. The impact of injecting low priced wind generation into the Waipara node will reduce wholesale electricity prices by $20 million to $46 million nationally and $400,000 to $900,000 in the MainPower region.
It is estimated that between 220 and 376 work years will be directly and indirectly created regionally during the construction period, and between 457 and 727 work years will be created throughout the 25 year life of the wind farm.
Because MainPower is community-owned, the profits are returned to the community. It will also mean that some of the money our community pays to electricity retailers (more than one million dollars a week) will remain in the community.
Mt Cass Wind Farm will contribute to an overall reduction in New Zealand's emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides. A wind farm on Mt Cass could offset the production of up to 82,000 tonnes of C02 emissions - that's equal to the amount of C02 emitted by up to 19,000 cars.
Renewable energy including wind power is key to New Zealand's future. The New Zealand Energy Strategy to 2050 sets a target of 90 percent of New Zealand's electricity being generated by renewable resources by the year 2025. It encourages growth in wind and other renewable technologies to lower carbon emissions and deliver secure, clean and energy at affordable prices to support economic development. The Mt Cass Wind Farm should be part of the realisation of this vision.
Mt Cass Wind Farm has national significance because it expands the geographic diversity of New Zealand's wind power. This means that the nation's wind generation does not have to rely on the wind constantly blowing in Manawatu or Southland, where the country's main wind farms are currently located.
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