Wellington, New Zealand [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Meridian Energy’s Te Apiti wind farm in the Tararua ranges is now capable of delivering its full 90 MW capacity to New Zealand’s national grid, enough to power some 45,000 average homes. The project’s 55th and last wind turbine has now been fully commissioned almost exactly a year after construction began on the country’s — and the Southern Hemisphere’s — largest wind farm.Meridian spokesman Alan Seay says the commissioning of the final turbine marks the closing stages of a very successful development program. “In a little over a year we have consented and constructed a significant new power development,” Seay said. “This is despite the major storm and flooding in February which resulted in the loss of a substantial number of working days. Seay said the area received 1784 mm of rain since the project construction began, causing a number of problems for the construction crews. “We lost a key bridge for transporting material to the site, but thanks to the efforts of everyone involved it has made very little difference to the timetable. It’s a huge tribute to our construction partners and everyone else who had a hand.” Seay said that apart from being a new source of clean, renewable power, Te Apiti has provided a major tourism bonus for the region. Meridian has provided a public viewing area near one of the turbines, and a car counter installed by Tararua District Council has recorded 1441 cars visiting the site during the second week of October alone. A study carried out by Destination Manawatu has estimated the wind farm could be worth up to $7 million (US$ 4.7 million) to the region in tourist activity. The Danish-built 1.65 MW wind turbines are the largest currently in use in New Zealand, and each of them can generate enough electricity to power up to 900 average homes. Meridian Energy has lodged applications for resource consent for another major wind farm development at White Hill, near Lumsden in Southland.