Meridian Energy has begun work to construct Mill Creek wind farm, in the Ohariu Valley north-west of Wellington city and north of Meridian's West Wind wind farm.
Mill Creek shares West Wind's geography and wind resource. It is expected to slightly outperform West Wind, with a predicted capacity factor of 45% compared to West Wind's 43%.
The 60MW wind farm will have 26 Siemen's 2.3 MW turbines. Civil works will be led by Higgins. Higgins was the lead civil contractor for West Wind, which was completed in 2009.
The project is expected to cost $169 million and take 30 months to construct. Preparatory civil works have begun and will take around 18 months. The wind farm will be fully commissioned by mid 2014.
The alignment of a number of external factors enabled the project to go ahead - including the strong NZ dollar, an easing of steel prices and highly competitive turbine technology and construction industries.
The wind farm is located on privately owned farms. The landowners say they have chosen wind farming as their preferred way of supporting the ongoing viability of their farms – over other options such as housing subdivision and forestry – because it will preserve the lifestyle and rural character of the area.
Meridian submitted its application to Wellington City Council in February 2008. The council's consent hearing concluded in September 2008. The council granted consent to the project in February 2009. This consent was applead to the Environment Court by several parties, including Meridian.
In August 2011, the Environment Court issued its decision to uphold Wellington City Council's decision to grant resource consent.