War­rackn­abeal plan in the wind

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Victorian wind-farm de­vel­oper West­wind En­ergy wants to build a new wind farm south-west of War­rackn­abeal.

Al­though the project is in its in­fancy, West­wind an­tic­i­pates it will lodge a plan­ning-per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion by the end of this year.

The project in­volves con­struc­tion of up to 15 tur­bines on 610 hectares of farm­land.

The fin­ished farm will have the po­ten­tial of pro­duc­ing up to about 50 megawatts of elec­tric­ity.

West­wind En­ergy man­ag­ing di­rec­tor To­bias Geiger said West­wind started mon­i­tor­ing wind re­sources in the area ear­lier this year and shortly af­ter de­ter­mined the site was ideal for wind-en­ergy pro­duc­tion.

He said, if ap­proved, the project would bring var­i­ous eco­nomic re­gional ben­e­fits dur­ing con­struc­tion.

“The War­rackn­abeal Wind Farm will pro­vide power for about 30,000 av­er­age Victorian homes an­nu­ally and re­duce yearly car­bon diox­ide emis­sions by more than 175,000 tonnes,” he said.

“This is an im­por­tant en­ergy project for the re­gion, and it will pro­vide a sus­tain­able flow of clean en­ergy for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of Vic­to­ri­ans.”

The con­struc­tion and op­er­a­tion of War­rackn­abeal Wind Farm will have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on the lo­cal econ­omy.

West­wind ex­pects that dur­ing con­struc­tion about 30 peo­ple would be em­ployed by the project.

Two peo­ple would then be re­quired to op­er­ate the wind farm for its 25year life cy­cle.

“Once op­er­a­tional, a com­mu­nity fund will also be es­tab­lished to pro­vide an­nual fi­nan­cial sup­port of up to $15,000 a year for a range of com­mu­nity-based projects and events that ben­e­fit com­mu­ni­ties around the wind farm,’’ Mr Geiger said.

West­wind En­ergy has al­ready been in­volved with the de­vel­op­ment of four other Victorian wind farms.

These in­clude a 321MW Moora­bool Wind Farm project sold to Gold­wind in 2016; a 216MW Lal Lal Wind Farm project sold to Mac­quarie Cap­i­tal in early 2017; a 131MW Mt Mercer Wind Farm sold to Merid­ian En­ergy in 2009 and now fully op­er­a­tional.

It has also submitted a plan­ning-per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion to the State Govern­ment for a 228-tur­bine 800MW Golden Plains Wind Farm.

War­rackn­abeal Wind Farm is to date the small­est of West­wind En­ergy’s projects.

A lack of elec­tri­cal-grid ca­pac­ity in the Wim­mera has pre­vented the or­gan­i­sa­tion from de­vel­op­ing a larger farm but ideal cli­matic con­di­tions promis­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal and com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity has prompted it to push ahead with the project. West­wind En­ergy will host a pop-up break­fast in­for­ma­tion ses­sion at War­rackn­abeal Town Hall from 7.30am to 11.30am on De­cem­ber 8.

The ses­sion will pro­vide the com­mu­nity with an op­por­tu­nity to meet West­wind staff and ask ques­tions about the War­rackn­abeal Wind Farm de­vel­op­ment.

The com­pany has in­vited peo­ple un­able to at­tend the ses­sion but still keen to find out more about the project to call 5421 9999.

The War­rackn­abeal project joins a string of large-scale re­new­able-en­ergy projects ei­ther un­der­way or in plan­ning stages across the re­gion.

Some Wim­mera and Western District com­mu­ni­ties are al­ready see­ing or work­ing to­wards the ben­e­fits of re­new­able-power pro­duc­tion.

Na­timuk Com­mu­nity En­ergy group will in­stall a 10-kilo­watt so­lar sys­tem at Na­timuk Show­ground af­ter re­ceiv­ing a $10,000 grant through elec­tric­ity provider Pow­er­shop’s Your Com­mu­nity En­ergy Fund.

Ex­pec­ta­tions are the so­lar sys­tem will save a show­ground com­mit­tee more than $2800 a year in en­ergy costs and pay for it­self in un­der five years.

Na­timuk Com­mu­nity En­ergy project co-or­di­na­tor Enga Lokey said the grant was a gift that would keep giv­ing to the Na­timuk com­mu­nity.

“We are very ex­cited to get this project up and run­ning be­fore the end of the year and will in­vite the com­mu­nity to cel­e­brate with us and the show­ground user groups at a project launch near Christ­mas,” she said.

The group is also work­ing on a fea­si­bil­ity study and busi­ness case for a larger so­lar in­stal­la­tion to help move Na­timuk to­wards 100 per­cent re­new­able elec­tric­ity.

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