Mixed Greens: SA backs wind energy as investors hover

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South Australia Premier says wind investment ‘vital’ to state. Investors eye wind farms in SA, NSW; Hydro Tas extends King Island wind farm survey.

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South Australia’s Premier Jay Weatherill has reaffirmed his government’s support for wind energy, saying that recent calls from within parliament for a moratorium on future wind farm development in Australia were putting investment in the industry at risk. “The government remains committed to providing ample opportunity for investment in wind energy in South Australia,” the premier told state parliament on Tuesday, adding that he would seek a vote in parliament on Wednesday backing the renewable energy sector. “Every megawatt hour of wind energy cuts about one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions. Apart from the environmental benefits, wind farms also bring in vital investment to our state,” Weatherill said, pointing to the around $3 billion in wind energy investment South Australia had already attracted, as well as 842 direct jobs.

Meanwhile, investors hover…

Reports have emerged that EnergyAustralia – the Australian unit of Hong Kong-listed power generator CLP Holdings, formely known as TRUenergy – is in talks to sell a majority stake in its South Australian Waterloo wind farm to funds managed by Syndey-based Palisade Investment Partners. The 111MW Waterloo wind farm, which has a long-term supply agreement with EnergyAustralia, is located 30 kilometers from the town of Clare in SA.  It has 37 turbines supplying energy to 49,000 homes. In May, EnergyAustralia unveiled plans to add six new turbines, to lift capacity to 129 MW. Deal Journal Australia reports that EnergyAustralia hired ANZ last June to sell Waterloo, which is valued at around $A300 million. As we reported on RenewEconomy, the company seemed to go cold on renewable energy development towards the end of 2012, joining Origin Energy in calling for Australia’s renewable energy target to be diluted, and made a percentage of “real” demand rather than a fixed target.

Meanwhile, a stake in the 107MW Boco Rock wind farm in NSW is also attracting interest – in this case, however, from offshore investors. The Wall Street Journal reports that China Longyuan Power Group and Thailand’s Electricity Generating are among shortlisted parties vying to buy a stake in the Australian wind farm, put on the blocks by Continental Wind Partners. Deal Journal Australia’s Gillian Tan says the interest “underscores how overseas investors are becoming more confident that they can make a profit from renewable energy projects.” Bidders can buy between 50-100 per cent of Boco Rock, depending on whether General Electric Co.’s GE +0.30% energy investment arm GE Energy Financial Services exercises its right to 50% of the wind farm’s equity, sources said.

And in other news…

Hydro Tasmania has extended the consultation period for its $2 billion King Island wind farm proposal, citing community concern as the reason behind the move. ABC News reports that Hydro is running an independent survey to determine whether the project has sufficient community support, before proceeding to a full feasibility study. The survey was to be sent out on Monday, but now will not go out until June. “People felt that they were a bit pressured in that they didn’t feel that they had enough information,” said consultative committee chairman, John Brewster. “Also… we needed to think about a few more aspects and bring people in to talk to us who’ve had experience in other areas.”

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