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Council-run wind farms plan

Hobart City Council is examining whether local councils should develop their own wind farm that could slash the power bills of Tasmanian households struggling with rising electricity costs.

The council will tonight consider a report into whether developments such as locally owned wind farms would be viable.

The proposal is for a group of councils to develop and operate their own wind farm.

Areas such as the Midlands and other locations close to high-voltage transmission lines are earmarked as possible locations.

The power generated would be sold directly to households or used at local government-owned facilities which would in turn reduce council overheads and allow the savings to be re-invested in other community projects.

Alternatively, the cheaper power could be sold to local industries and used as a lure for to bring new businesses to the area. Deputy Mayor and Development and Environmental Services Committee member Helen Burnet said the idea was inspired by a privately owned wind farm project in the rural communities of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs in Victoria.

A community co-operative supported by the Victorian Government has built a wind farm that produces enough energy for 2300 households, almost enough for all of the houses in the two districts.

It is the first community-owned wind farm in Australia and is expected to start producing power in the second quarter of this year.

Ald Burnet said a consultant’s report, which is already being conducted, would better guide councils on the viability of the project.

“We are in a good position to take advantage of this technology and there is so much potential,” Ald Burnet said.

“Councils have an opportunity to work together on this and make a difference for the community.”

It is a turnaround for the HCC with some alderman criticising a proposal by Hobart developer Robert Rockefeller to put wind turbines on the roof of two of his high-rise buildings in the central business district.

Many aldermen were unhappy about the 11m wind turbines to be built on the ANZ building, saying it would spoil the view of Mt Wellington.

But all supported the technology in appropriate locations.

After fighting the objection, Mr Rockefeller gained approval but the project has since been put on hold.

Four wind turbines were installed on the Marine Board building in July last year, but two of them failed in August, causing $100,000 damage.