Too much spin for Green MP

Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons has given up on wind power after the turbine on her Coromandel farm fell off in a gale.

Wires supporting a 10m pole holding up the turbine propeller have snapped several times in the past five years. During a heavy winter storm, the propeller toppled off.

"I suppose technically, it could have hit a cow, but the cows got out of the way," says Fitzsimons, the government's energy efficiency spokeswoman.

The MP, who has not drawn power from the national grid for 13 years, is now looking at setting up a microhydro scheme on a stream at her property.

Twelve solar panels will provide energy over summer.

The turbine was on a hill behind her house.

"We had a few crashes when the wire broke under loads that it was meant to be fit for but wasn't."

She says that at $1500 for repairs each time the turbine broke down, combined with the cost of overhauling it, the project had become too expensive to run.

Fitzsimons, who is an enthusiastic advocate of wind power, says the turbine had worked well for the first eight years of its 13-year life.

"It was a structural rather than a wind energy problem, and these days there are little lightweight towers you can get that you set in concrete to hold the turbine so you don't need guy wires.

"You couldn't get (that) in NZ when we first put ours up."

Sunday Star Times