Mercury Energy stops work on its Turitea wind farm in coronavirus lockdown

  • Mar 25, 2020
  • Manawatu Standard

Electricity provider Mercury is halting construction work on its $450 million Turitea wind farm in Manawatū, as the country prepares for lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The work on what will be New Zealand's biggest wind farm was classed as non-essential construction work, and had to be stopped as part of the Government stepping the country up to level four on its alert system from midnight on Wednesday.

"Mercury in conjunction with its contractors has immediately started securing its Turitea wind farm construction site and putting a temporary hold on certain other work currently in progress," said Mercury acting chief executive William Meek.

The Turitea wind farm's northern zone turbines were due to be generating electricity this coming summer, with the remaining southern zone turbines expected to be completed late in 2021. However, the construction halt was likely to delay that.

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The first stage of the wind farm was 33 turbines, at a cost of $256m, while the second stage was a 27-turbine, $208m project.

"Mercury will monitor Covid-19 response levels, and work with Vestas, Electrix and Transpower to re-start construction at an appropriate time."

Mercury's geothermal well drilling programme at Rotokawa, near Taupō, would also be paused.

Planned maintenance would still be done at some power stations to return generating units to service, which would be essential to the country's electricity security of supply during winter.

Fletcher Building, New Zealand's biggest construction company, said on Wednesday that it had cancelled its dividend as the lockdown forces most of construction projects to close.

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