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Helios is taking its time

A 190-hectare solar farm proposed for Greytown is going back to the drawing board in light of extensive consultation.

Helios Energy has confirmed that the consultation process currently underway means all aspects of the project – including the design, the number of panels, and positioning – are back “on the table”.

Helios Energy announced the $140 million project in partnership with long-time Greytown family, the Kemptons, in August last year.

The proposed solar panel farm would see 190ha of the Kempton’s land bordering Bidwills Cutting Rd, State Highway 2, and Kemptons Line, given over to the project with a 35-year lease.

Helios said at the time of the announcement that the number of solar panels was yet to be determined, but the project would produce enough electricity to power 20,000 homes.

Helios director Jason McDonald said Greytown was chosen due to its climate and proximity to a substation.

“We were looking for areas near the grid that had the available capacity to connect and were suitably sunny.”

The renewable energy project, billed as a necessary step toward meeting increasing energy demand – projected to increase nationally by up to 70 per cent by 2050 – received mixed reactions from residents.

A public information evening about the project saw a reported “mob” of 20-30 people turn up in strong opposition.

Company spokesperson Jonathan Hill said consultation on a draft proposal at the end of last year attracted a “bunch of feedback from a range of quarters”, and Helios is now refining the design as a result.

Hill said the consultation on the project has been wide-ranging, citing the community drop-in sessions, and conversations with the district council and mana whenua.

“We received a wide range of feedback, from highly supportive to having some concerns about certain aspects of the project,” Hill said.

“We are addressing that in the ultimate project design that we put forward for consent.

“This is a positive project for the region and the country. The country desperately needs renewable energy.”

Hill said a resource consent application would be months away. “There’s nothing imminent.”

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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