Victoria, Australia – June 27, 2017 – Victoria’s Ararat Wind Farm was officially opened today with a ceremony in Ararat to mark the completion of the 240MW wind farm. The wind farm is now operating at full capacity providing enough electricity to power the equivalent of 120,000 homes across Victoria and the ACT.
The $450 million wind farm development, financed by shareholders Partners Group (on behalf of its clients), RES, OPTrust and GE, was the first wind farm development to be signed following restored bipartisan support for the Renewable Energy Target (RET) in June 2015.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, Member for Wannon Dan Tehan and Member for Brindabella Mick Gentleman attended the ceremony to mark the completion of construction and commencement of full operations.
“I would like to congratulate RES Australia and their shareholders on the development of the Ararat Wind Farm. The Ararat Wind Farm is another great success story in Wannon creating jobs, boosting local business and supporting the Ararat community.”
“The commitment of RES Australia to ensuring local businesses and manufacturers benefited from this major investment is to be congratulated” said Dan Tehan.
“Although Ararat wind farm is already feeding electricity into the grid, completion of construction at the site signals another milestone in the ACT’s renewable electricity targets and further evidence of the success of our reverse auctions scheme,” said Minister Mick Gentleman, Member for Brindabella. “The Ararat site will power around 37,000 Canberra homes ensuring that we are on track to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2020. We are committed to working with the energy sector to show the world that a clean energy future can be achieved”.
Comprising of 75 GE wind turbines, each with a capacity of 3.2MW, the wind farm is the third-largest in the Southern Hemisphere, powering five percent of Victorian homes with zero emissions.
“The successful completion and now operation of Ararat Wind Farm is indeed a proud achievement for project developer RES,” said Matt Rebbeck, Chief Operating Officer at RES Australia. “From the identification of the site some ten years ago, through planning, financial close, construction and into operation the project depicts tri-partisan, regulatory and community support that has ensured all stakeholders are today able to enjoy the benefits of the wind farm. It is an honour to add Ararat Wind Farm as the largest single development to our global portfolio of successfully completed projects.”
“This project was announced the day after the RET was set at 33,000 GWh. Two years later we now have a fully operational 240MW wind farm powering 120,000 homes,” said Geoff Culbert, CEO & President of GE Australia & NZ. “This is what industry can deliver with stable policy. It is living proof that certainty drives investment, with flow on positive effects for regional economies.”
A recent Economic Impact Analysis Report developed by RES Australia found an ongoing regional economic stimulus associated with new local wage spending and financial returns to land owners of $44.5 million over 25 years.
The 16-month construction period generated approximately 600 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs, including 165 direct and 430 indirect FTE positions. The operational phase will see 51 FTE jobs (13 direct and 38 indirect) to support the operation and maintenance of the wind farm.
“The completion of Ararat Wind Farm is a significant milestone in the development of renewable energy in Australia,” said Benjamin Haan, Head of Private Infrastructure Asia for Partners Group. “As the largest shareholder in the project, we are proud of its contribution to both the local community in Ararat and the wider community in Victoria.”
OPTrust President & CEO Hugh O’Reilly added: “The opening of Ararat Wind Farm builds on our expertise with renewable energy and demonstrates our commitment to a greener economy. When considering potential investments, we seek initiatives and partnerships that are sustainable, create jobs and align with the interest of our members – objectives that have been met through the creation of this wind farm.”
The Ararat Wind Farm has set up a community fund to support local causes, which will contribute $2.7 million over the 25-year period towards environmental sustainability initiatives and cultural activities.
“The arrival of the first blades for the Ararat Wind Farm last June was a monumental occasion and today’s official opening is even more exciting,” said Ararat Mayor Cr Paul Hooper. “Over the last 12 months, we have seen the towers popping up across Ararat’s horizon and with each new tower the decade-long vision of RES has been recognised. Statistics have shown the Ararat Wind Farm has already had a very positive impact on our economy and the creation of 51 jobs means the benefits for our community will be ongoing.”
The project also benefits from a power purchase agreement with the ACT Government, guaranteeing the purchase of approximately 40 per cent of the energy produced at the site, which was awarded under the ACT’s Wind Auction announcement in February 2015.