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PGF approves wind turbines funding for Stewart Island - Parker

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Stewart Island/Rakiura has been granted $3.16 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to help build two wind turbines, putting the island on a path to sustainable electricity generation, Environment Minister David Parker announced today.

"Stewart Island is our third largest island, after the North and South Islands, and it is high time we addressed its energy future. Its isolation means it faces challenges to its sustainable economic development," David Parker said.

It is estimated Stewart Islanders currently pay on average about three times as much as mainlanders for power, putting a huge extra burden on household budgets. The high cost of electricity also hinders businesses that might otherwise - for example - process fish on the island.

"It also makes sense to reduce the reliance on diesel, given the island’s reputation and potential as an environmental tourist destination, both for the National Park and as a Dark Sky Sanctuary," David Parker said.

"Electricity is currently generated on the island through diesel generators that consume around 360,000 litres of diesel a year. Currently the full cost of diesel is not met, and fiscal reserves are likely to be depleted within a few years.

"Building an initial two wind turbines as part of the island’s power generation network is the most economic and environmentally acceptable option. It provides a renewable energy source. It is estimated to reduce diesel use on the island by half, which will enable the price of electricity to be stabilised.

"The economic resilience of Stewart Island will be considerably improved through this investment. Installing wind turbines will work to improve business viability, increase productivity and encourage businesses to remain on the island. Jobs will be created during the pre-construction and construction phase," David Parker said.

Some on the island had wanted a hydro scheme but there was not enough storage for that and it would be more expensive.

Some had wanted a cable from the mainland, but that would be much more expensive.

"Wind energy is a clean fuel source compared to other energy sources. It does not pollute the air or produce greenhouse gasses," David Parker said.

The PGF funding will allow for the pre-development and construction stages to be completed. The pre-development phase includes design, resource consents, geotechnical surveying, land access and economic analysis. The construction phase will include civil works and construction and turbine installation.

David Parker said there had been more than a dozen reports over the years into alternative energy sources for the island, but none had gone ahead.

"We are committed to addressing this important issue for the households and businesses on the island."

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