Stewart Is wind speeds gauged

00:39, Sep 02 2014
Southland Times photo
POWERFUL POST: A 30m-tall wind mast has been put up near Garden Mound on Stewart Island to measure wind speeds.

Wind speeds are being monitored on Stewart Island in an effort to reduce energy costs on the island.

Venture Southland enterprise project manager Robin McNeill said a 30m-tall wind mast was put up last week, the first of three options that will be monitored during the next year.

The $170,000 project will monitor wind speeds, water flow, solar energy generation and power consumption on the island to assess which renewable option, if any, could replace or supplement the diesel generators that power the island.

A frame for photovoltaic solar panels was almost finished, and work to clear a helicopter landing pad and path into the location for a v-notch weir was some of the work completed last week, McNeill said.

Monitoring of wind speeds and power consumption had already begun, with solar monitoring expected in the next two weeks, he said. The wind mast was put up near Garden Mound, and the solar panel would be installed near the power station.

A design for the V-notch weir to be built east of Port William was still to be finalised before it could be installed and monitoring could begin, he said.

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The project had stalled after Department of Conservation concessions had taken longer to secure than anticipated.

Calls for an investigation into renewable energy stemmed from high electricity costs.

Southland District Council-owned Stewart Island Electrical Supply Authority maintains the network and spends about $500,000 a year on diesel to fuel the generators.

Island power prices went up 3 per cent in July, with Stewart Island residents paying about twice the amount charged per kilowatt hour of electricity used and about twice the amount charged for fixed-line charges in Invercargill.

AT A GLANCE

Residential electricity prices

Stewart Island Fixed monthly charge: $87.55

Standard rate: about 58c per unit

Night rate: about 51c per unit

Invercargill Fixed charge: from 15c to $1.10 a day (from Electricity Invercargill Ltd)

Average charge per kWh: 25.5c (from Electricity Authority)

The Southland Times