Victoria looks set to get another wind farm, after New Zealand-based outfit Tilt Renewables confirmed it would proceed with plans to develop a 54MW project in the state’s west, despite not yet having secured a power off-take deal.
Tilt – which last year chose Melbourne as the regional headquarters for its renewables only business, an offshoot of NZ utility, Trustpower – says the company had decided that the $105 million Salt Creek wind farm, near Mortlake, would go ahead without a power purchase agreement.
“Given our current highly contracted revenue base, we have taken a portfolio view to move ahead with this project allowing flexibility to consider securing a power purchase agreement at a later date,” said Tilt CEO Robert Farron on Friday.
“The closure of the Hazelwood power station and other market factors have seen wholesale electricity prices rise considerably, which underpin our revenue projections for the early years of this significant wind farm development,” Farron said.
“It is supported by proven technology and leading construction partners – Vestas, Zenviron and AusNet Services – and along with robust long-term operations and maintenance arrangements, it represents an attractive project which will make an important contribution to Australia’s Renewable Energy Target.”
Barron also says the company looked forward to “enhancing the positive relationship” the company had forged with the local community during the Salt Creek wind farm’s construction and operational phases.
Notably, Tilt has already experienced significant difficulties on this front, with its Rye Park project in New South Wales and its Palmer wind farm in South Australia both meeting strong opposition from local communities.
Rye Park was approved for development in May, although with 17 fewer turbines; while the Palmer wind farm was challenged in court after high profile local AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan mounted a legal battle to stop the 114-turbine project from going ahead. According to RE sources, McLachlan has since withdrawn the legal challenge.
But this does not appear to have put the company off its “significant” plans to develop and buy more large-scale wind and solar in Australia.
Tilt said last week it would will continue to develop other wind and solar projects around the country, with its focus also extending to storage technologies and firming capability to address generation variability.
The Salt Creek project is being funded from an existing undrawn $100 million corporate debt facility and available cash balances.
Construction of the project, which will include 15 wind turbines and a new 49 kilometre, 66 kV transmission line (to be built, owned and operated by AusNet Services), is expected to create more than 100 jobs, and be completed in 12 months.
*This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the court challenge against Palmer Wind Farm has been dropped.