Victoria’s Moyne Shire is being sized up for what could be a massive 700MW wind farm, in a proposal from locally-based renewable energy developer Wind Prospect.
The company said last month that it was “exploring the possibility of developing” a wind farm with up to 125 turbines near Hexham – at a site chosen for its high wind resource and proximity to existing transmission infrastructure.
Wind Prospect said it had been undertaking wind monitoring at the site for “some time,” and was now undertaking further feasibility studies and engaging with key stakeholders, including neighbours of the proposed project, which could feature turbines up to 250 metres high.
“As part of this engagement we will be meeting with those in close proximity to the project as well as council, government and other groups,” a statement said.
According to a company newsletter, up to 14 landowners were so far involved in the project, which spanned land that had been cleared for livestock grazing and cropping.
“We have left information packs with residents, including details on our benefit sharing proposal, which will see a total of up to $1.6 million per year paid to eligible dwellings within six kilometres of the project for its 25 years-plus lifespan,” said Wind Prospect general manager of development Ben Purcell.
“We have invited locals to provide feedback on this proposal, which would – in its current form – see individual annual payments range from $2600 to just over $20,000.”
The project was also expected to power about 550,000 homes a year, “or a city the size of Warrnambool more than 36 times over,” and deliver up to $900,000 in rates each year to the Moyne Shire Council.
Wind Prospect says it aims to be in a position to submit a planning permit application late this year, and then – if successful with that – begin construction in 2022.
“We are currently undertaking a feasibility assessment on connecting to the grid, but at this stage it is likely the Hexham Wind Farm would connect to the existing 500kV infrastructure,” Mr Purcell said.
The Warrnambool Standard said Australia’s national wind farm commissioner, Andrew Dyer, had described the proposed project as an “interesting test case” for the shire, which last November voted to oppose any more wind developments until changes recommended by Dyer were adopted by the state government.
These included that approvals for wind farms should consider the compounding effect of other wind farms in the area and the amount of community support for wind farm proposals, the paper said.
A separate wind farm being developed in nearby Mortlake South – a 157.5MW, 35-turbine project by Spanish developers Acciona – recently revealed plans to use underground cabling, as a concession to local objections to the addition of more transmission lines in the area.
“It’s more expensive, but it’s the right thing to do for this project,” Wickham said in comments reported on ESD News.
“We examined various options, and of course are fully aware that existing aboveground transmission lines have caused some angst locally. As our approach is to invest in local areas for the long term and work cooperatively with communities, we felt this decision would be the most appropriate local solution for these specific circumstances.”