Plans to build a huge 800MW wind farm in central-western New South Wales are set to be put before the local community in a meeting later this month with developers UPC/AC Renewables.
The Valley of the Winds project, which would sit between the towns of Coolah and Leadville in the Warrumbungle Shire, proposes to install 175 turbines on cattle and sheep grazing land,
UPC said on Tuesday it had invited members of the local community to discuss plans for the project that would generate enough renewable energy to power 590,000 homes a year.
They said the wind farm, which was in the early stages of planning, was expected to create up to 400 jobs during construction and up to 50 full time jobs throughout its operational life.
A battery storage system was also being considered for the project – which falls into the state government’s recently created Central West Renewable Energy Zone – to assist with grid stability and provide electricity during peak periods.
“This is a great opportunity for us to introduce the project, answer questions and get early feedback from the local community,” said Valley of the Winds project manager Jeremy Ellis.
“We want this project to be a valued long-term asset for rural communities across the Central West region for many years to come,” Ellis added.
“So, it’s important for us to hear the views of the local community as early as possible and wherever we can build them into our project application.”
UPC is no stranger to ambitious wind projects, being the developer behind the Robbins Island and Jim’s Plain projects in Tasmania, which proposed to install a combined capacity of between 600-1000MW in the island state’s north-west.
Those wind farms have proven controversial for their size and location, and for the high profile opposition they have attracted, including from Greens founder and Tassie local Bob Brown.
How NSW locals will react to the idea of an 800W wind farm in their backyard remains to be seen, but the region, which is in the federal electorate of Parkes, is already home to AGL’s 200MW Silverton project.
At this stage, the Valley of the Winds project will be assessed as a State Significant Development under Part 4 of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, and will also require approval from the Commonwealth, with significant input from the community and local councils.
The community information session will be held from 2pm to 7 pm on Thursday February 27 at Coolah Showgrounds & Recreational Reserve, Dunedoo Road, Coolah.
UPC also has some interest in pumped hydro technology, having last year bought a majority stake in the 250MW Baroota pumped hydro project, with eight hours storage – one of 12 projects short-listed by the Australian federal government in its Underwriting New Generation Investment scheme.
The $400 million pumped hydro project is located in the state’s mid north and right next to the Bungama-Davenport transmission line. As reported at the time, the deal to buy the majority stake from Rise Renewables included the neighbouring 300MW Bridle Track solar farm, which will likely be built in stages.
The company is also proposing to develop another 400MW pumped hydro project in Armidale, in New South Wales, which was selected as part of that state government’s emerging renewables program, as we reported here.