With 2021 well underway, the Mt Cass Wind Farm project team are working hard to get the project ready for financial close in the middle of this year, with construction planned to get underway towards the end of the year.
Financial close is when the final green light is given for the team to proceed with the detailed design and construction. It occurs when all the key contracts are ready to be signed and the final costs are approved.
Currently, the team and their contractors are finalising the last elements of the developed design (the design stage before detailed design). This includes the designs for the roading and turbine platform civil works, turbine foundations, landscaping and electrical that will enable the project to be accurately priced.
The design specifications then feed into the procurement process to select a ‘Balance of Plant’ contractor whose scope is to supply and install all the wind farm infrastructure, except for the wind turbines themselves. This tender is expected to go to market early next month.
Tiwai Smelter closure – what does it mean for the Mt Cass Wind Farm?
Since the last project update, Rio Tinto and Meridian Energy have entered into a new electricity agreement that will keep the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter operating until at least 31 December 2024. This gives us certainty about how the eventual closure will impact the generation industry and the Mt Cass Wind Farm.
The announcement also provides a more stable outlook for forwarding electricity prices in New Zealand. This, coupled with increasing demand forecasts for electricity usage, provides a strong market outlook for generation from our large renewable energy project.
For Lizard re-location underway
The past year, we have been preparing to re-locate the two species of lizards/gecko from the wind farm’s construction footprint to a new habitat. In preparation for this, we’ve been carrying out environmental monitoring in the area, and a programme of pest management at the relocation sites to help the lizards thrive in their new home.
In late March, the action began, as a group of herpetologists got to work identifying, catching and transporting the lizards to their new habitat. Following the relocation, we will begin deconstructing the old habitat which largely consists of relocating rocks out of the roading and turbine platform corridors.
Pictured: A herpetologist relocating lizards from Mt Cass.
Calling any budding botanists!
As part of our ongoing ecological protection work at Mt Cass, we commissioned two pieces of research to understand what plant life is in the area. We also wanted to know what pest plant life is in the area, so we can manage that as well.
You can download our two guides below. They each explain the types of plants found at the site, some information about the species, and what you should look for if you want to go looking for them too.
As well as identifying significant plant life in the area, we are also taking steps to protect it. The Mt Cass Wind Farm project includes the creation of 127 hectares of protected land, including predator-free areas of native shrub and forest. We’re also extending the existing Mt Cass Walkway by 7km – opening an area of spectacular scenery and landscape to the community for the first time.