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Windlab’s Kiata wind farm in Victoria reaches financial close

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A 30MW wind farm being developed by Australian CSIRO spin-off company Windlab, and part-owned by neighbouring property owners of the Victorian project, will begin construction in the new year, after reaching financial close this week.

The developers of the $75 million Kiata wind farm announced the milestone on Thursday after securing financing from John Laing Group and the National Australia Bank.

Under the terms of the investment agreement, John Laing will provide a majority of project equity and will own a little over 72 per cent of the wind farm, with the remainder to be owned by Windlab and 24 of the project’s neighbours. National Australia Bank will lead debt financing for the project and will provide a facility of up to $50 million.

Windlab said it had applied the same “innovative, award winning community engagement model” for the Kiata project as it did for the recently completed Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm, pictured below.

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“This results in greater openness and transparent communications with all local stakeholder and results in nearby neighbours of the wind farm owning a portion of the project once operational. On completion the project neighbours will own around 3 per cent of the project.

Construction of the nine turbine project located west of Horsham, Victoria, near the town of Nhill is expected to take less than 12 months with the wind farm being operational before the end of 2017.

On completion, Kiata is expected to generate around 134,000 megawatt hours of electricity per annum – enough power to supply more than 20,000 homes.

Windlab said the it had moved quickly to achieve financial close after signing a contract in June 2016 to supply large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) to the Victorian government under their innovative supply agreement.

The company said the scheme had played an important role in “re-vitalising the wind industry” after a period of decline resulting from federal policy uncertainty.

As we reported earlier this week, very few large-scale wind farms have been built anywhere in Australia since the Coalition government’s attack on the large-scale renewable energy target and its decision to cut it from 41,000GWh to 33,000GWh.

The 180MW Mount Emerald project near Mareeba, in Queensland – which also reached financial close this week and will begin construction next month – marks one of the first to break the drought.

The only other large-scale wind farm to begin construction under the RET, the Goldwind White Rock project in northern NSW, is being built without yet receiving a contract or off take agreement from a major retailer. Other projects – like Ararat, Hornsdale, Coonooer Bridge, Sapphire and Crookwell – have been built with 20-year contracts issued by the ACT government under its policy to reach 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020.

“Coupled with its more ambitious and progressive 2025 Renewable Energy Target, these initiatives will help bring billions of dollars of investment to Victoria and significantly reduce the states’ carbon footprint,” said Windlab CEO Roger Price in a statement on Thursday.

“This is another Windlab project successfully partnered with the local community. This win-win outcome will ensure that the neighbours and community of the wind farm benefit from this investment for the next 20 years.”  

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