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Wind farm sets story straight

Merredin’s Collgar Wind Farm has released a statement confirming the project will go ahead as planned and will begin producing power in May, rejecting claims made in the article “Rejection takes wind out of farm” on page 14 of the West Australian on March 7.

The West Australian claimed the wind farm was “under threat of becoming a $750 million white elephant after plans to spend $22 million connecting it to the power grid were rejected as flimsy.”

But a spokesperson from Collgar said negotiations between Western Power and the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) were still in early stages and the project would proceed as normal with no risk of the farm becoming a ‘white elephant’.

The West Australian referred to a draft decision by the ERA which denied Western Power’s bid for $21.7 million to build transmission works to the wind farm.

The bid was a New Facilities Investment Test (NFIT) application for the substation works that Western Power are constructing on the Collgar site to connect the wind farm into the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).

The NFIT is a regulatory test conducted by the ERA to determine whether new facilities associated with a new network asset can be added to Western Power’s capital base of the covered network and recovered though regulated network tariffs applied to users of the network.

Only that amount of new facilities investment that meets the new facilities investment test can be added to the capital base and recovered through regulatory tariffs.

A statement issued by Collgar said it was important to note that this was a draft determination only and the ERA process was far from complete.

“More importantly, the draft determination from the ERA is a matter between Western Power and the ERA and will not impact Collgar’s business,” the statement said.

“Collgar’s access to the network is governed by a commercial contract between itself and Western Power.

“The article in the West Australian on March 7 incorrectly implies that this draft determination may affect the development of the wind farm.

“This is not the case.

“There is no risk that the wind farm will be ‘potentially stranded’ nor are there any ‘questions over whether the project (can) start delivering some of its 206-megwatt capacity into the grid by late May-June’.

“The ERA’s final determination will not impact development of the wind farm nor expected timing of first energy generation.

“The article further states that Western Power’s $21.7 million budget will be funded by taxpayers’ money where in fact Collgar contributes fully to this amount via capital contributions and ongoing network access charges.

“Western Power has performed very well and professionally on this project to date.

“Collgar would like to acknowledge Western Power’s achievements on this project and the professionalism with which they have carried out their works.

Construction of the Collgar wind farm continues to progress extremely well and we anticipate exporting our first green energy into the SWIS by mid-May.”

When complete, the wind farm will be the largest wind farm in WA and will be the largest single stage wind farm development in the southern hemisphere to date.