Kaimai Wind Farm community update February 2023
As it did across all sectors, the Covid pandemic materially impacted our ability to physically meet with people to understand and, hopefully, allay any concerns about our proposal to construct a wind farm on the northern reaches of the Kaimai Ranges at Tirohia.
Health and welfare of the wider community has been uppermost in our minds and so, over the last two years, we have continued to consult with various groups and individuals online or in Zoom meetings and hui. Where possible we have also continued to investigate areas of concern to the community.
I am pleased that, with the pandemic behind us, we can return to face-to-face meetings and hui. The purpose of this update is to provide you with a current overview of the project.
Firstly, a recap:
Kaimai Wind Farm began measuring the wind strength and consistency in 2005 when wind masts were erected at the site.
Since that time, we have met with a large number of people across the greater Hauraki District to discuss the project and the many benefits which would accrue to the community, and to hear and respond to any concerns.
In June 2018 we submitted resource consent applications to the Hauraki District and Waikato Regional Councils to construct a 24 turbine wind farm.
The application was publicly notified in November 2018 and around 220 submissions were received by the closing date of 31 January 2019. Submitting the consent application began a process whereby the respective Councils undertake analyses and reports which would enable a Hearing
Individual submitters who want to heard at the hearing, for and against the project number 49 and 9 respectively. There are also 8 glider associations and 7 Iwi groups seeking to present at the hearing. The hearing was initially planned for 2020 however for various reasons has been deferred.
After extensive consultation the relevant Hauraki iwi of Ngati Tara Tokanui, Ngati Hako, Ngati Tamatera, Ngati Maru and Ngati Rahiri Tumutumu submitted Cultural Values Assessments during 2021 and 2022 which summarise their concerns and opposition to the project. We have continued to talk with these iwi about those concerns and remain hopeful that resolution of some issues is possible. We believe the wind farm will deliver positive outcomes for local Māori and, indeed, all New Zealanders.
Studies on native bats
Our multi-year study and research has continued into the native bat population in and around the project site and is providing invaluable insights which will help us mitigate any negative impact on this species.
We commissioned Joe Wurts (an aeronautical engineer) to conduct scale glider studies at a South Island wind farm to determine the wake effects of the wind turbines. The study was focused on fixed wind gliders (sail planes) – but also has relevance to hang gliders and powered aircraft. The study demonstrated very low potential negative impacts on aircraft flying behind operating wind turbines.
Paragliders have different flight characteristics to fixed wing aircraft. Paragliders are more susceptible to turbulence effects of wind turbine wakes. Accordingly we have taken a different view (to fixed wing aircraft) and have offered a mitigation strategy of stopping the wind turbines operating for short periods of time during paragliding events – particularly national competitions in order for fliers to pass through the project safely. An agreement has been prepared and is being finalised by paraglider/hang glider representative groups.
Given the time which has elapsed since our last round of personal or public meetings, I want to extend an open invitation to individuals or groups who would like to meet with me to learn more about the proposal. Notwithstanding, I will come back to you at regular intervals to provide updates on progress.
Kaimai Wind Farm Ltd
Two proposed wind farms in the Waikato would generate sufficient energy to provide electricity to all the homes affected by Monday’s black-out.
Ventus Energy is progressing two Waikato wind farms, Taumatatotara Wind Farm on the West Coast south of Kawhia Harbour and Kaimai Wind Farm in the hills above Paeroa.
“If the projects had been operating they would have easily met the shortfall in generation which blacked-out a large number of homes in the Waikato. Wind Data at the proposed 50MW Taumatatotara site demonstrated good wind resource between 6 and 9pm that would have supported approximately 15,000 houses. The proposed 150MW Kaimai project would have supported an additional 40,000 houses during that critical time,” Glenn Starr said.
“The length of time it now takes to find sites, secure rights and then progress applications of this nature through the Resource Management Act process generally takes eight years or more, during which time the turbine size typically changes.
“The Taumatatotara Windfarm was consented in 2008 after a four year consent and consultation period for 110m tall turbines. The consent was varied in 2011 when technology advances supported turbines being 121m high - which was a fast and efficient process that only took six months. In 2019, we began the variation process again, however expectations on studies required by the Councils had increased and became more difficult. This time around we applied to increase the tip height of the 11 northern turbines to 172.5m whilst surrendering 11 smaller southern turbines. The clear opinion of our technical and planning consultants is the changes results in an overall positive effect.
“Those 11 larger turbines will produce more power than the original 22 sought in 2008,” Starr said.
Glenn Starr hopes that construction of the 11 turbine (50MW) West Coast wind farm on privately owned land in the Waitomo District will commence this summer and be operational by the beginning of 2023.
“The Kaimai Wind Farm (150MW) was submitted to Hauraki District Council in mid 2018 following several years of studies and investigations. Over the past three years we have been carrying out further consultations, investigations and negotiations in response to objections before proceeding to a hearing. A hearing has recently been set down for late November 2021. We expect a decision on the application by March 2022.”
Starr said years of data confirm that the wind strength is very consistent and will almost always produce some generation from the two projects to support the network.
“It makes a lot of sense to locate generation plant close to the demand centres of Hamilton, Tauranga and Auckland which reduces electrical losses from transporting electricity long distance.
“Geographically dispersing wind farms is also essential for increased system stability. NZ has too many wind projects concentrated in the bottom half of the North Island which generally experience the same wind regimes at similar times. The sole upper North Island project – Te Uku – on Monday night generated electricity that was out of step with the more southern projects. That is a very good thing.
“Scale is also a factor as northern sites with viable grid connection options tend to be smaller in size. However, the consenting process generally becomes more difficult at the northern sites as the population density increases and more people object through the RMA process.”
Glenn Starr said “providing battery storage further north is also an option to increase system resilience which Transpower, to their credit, are now actively engaging in. However, in my view, that storage should be made available in the market place to enable good market functioning. Those whom hold storage in the NZ market also hold market power. Along with the Hamilton black out, the market also saw prices peak at $450,000/MWhr (normally c. $80/MWhr) which can destroy independent retail companies,” Glenn Starr said.
“We have conducted exhaustive analyses and consultation which align with the requirements of the RMA and which demonstrate the benefits which will be delivered from both projects,” Glenn Starr said. “We can only hope that New Zealand’s increasing reliance on sustainable, renewable electricity see these projects advance to the construction stage so that Kiwis will not endure more black-outs.”
Contact : Glenn Starr, CEO, Ventus Energy ph 021 416 305
No-one could have foreseen the impact 2020 (or more precisely COVID) would have on our lives and I am conscious that it has been sometime since I last provided you with an update on the proposal to construct a wind farm on the northern reaches of the Kaimai Ranges at Tirohia.
As a brief recap, in June 2018 Kaimai Wind Farm submitted a resource consent application to the Hauraki District and Waikato Regional Councils to construct a 24 turbine wind farm on the northern reaches of the Kaimai Ranges at Tirohia. The application was publicly notified in November 2018 and around 220 submissions were received by the closing date of 31 January 2019.
Full details of the application (including all analyses) can be found on the Council and Kaimai Wind websites - http://www.hauraki-dc.govt.nz/services/resource-consents/kaimai-wind-farm-project.
In my community update of July 2019 I said that the submissions raised a range of issues which members of the public and stakeholders wanted to understand at a greater depth, and so much of the last 15 months have been spent understanding and responding to those concerns.
The COVID lockdown, of course, affected our ability to engage with people and this had a particular impact on our engagement with iwi.
In the latter half of 2019 we reached agreement with four Hauraki iwi - Ngāti Tara Tokanui, Ngāti Hako, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Maru and Ngāti Rahiri Tumutumu – to conduct a Cultural Values Assessment of the proposal.
A Cultural Values Assessment is a way to recognise and provide for the relationship of iwi and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, wahi tapu and other taonga and to assess how any adverse effects could be avoided, remedied or mitigated.
Our initial agreement with iwi outlined a six month programme of work which would enable the preparation of the Cultural Values Assessments by July 2020. And then COVID intervened preventing large gatherings and hui.
Currently we are hopeful of the first drafts of the Cultural Values Asssessments being completed by the end of December 2020. This will then allow the Councils to complete their analysis and reports and we are hopeful a Hearing will be held in the first quarter of 2021. The actual date of the Hearing will be advised to to all submitters and the general public.
Throughout the last year we have also continued to engage with individuals and groups wanting to discuss the project including paragliders and fixed wing gliders, ecology, Matamata Piako District Council, reaching agreement in a number of cases which will lead to mitigations and monitoring programmes.
I will come back to you in the New Year with an update on progress but in the meantime, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our Community Liaison, Clare Bayly, at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
CEO, Kaimai Wind Farm Ltd