Electricity prices could surge again as power companies sting customers to help bankroll wind farm projects being built across the state.
An investigation has revealed 29 wind farm projects could be operating across NSW by 2020.
There are three active wind farms at Tarago, Upper Lachlan and Walwa running 113 turbines. A further nine major projects, ranging from 15 to 598 turbines, are under construction. Within a few years, the number of turbines could jump to 3011.
GoSwitch.com.au founder Ben Freund, whose site offers energy deal comparisons, said customers were being slugged to cover renewable projects.
Companies behind major projects include Origin Energy, AGL, Transfield Services and Epuron.
The renewable energy grid would also cost more to operate compared with the output of coal stations.
“This energy is not reliable and could never provide a baseload electricity source. But the big companies are obliged to build these projects by law,” Mr Freund said. “The price for wind farms is passed on to the customer – but it is done in an invisible way.”An ACIL Tasman report comparing the current long-run marginal costs for power generators revealed the difference between coal and wind energy. The 2008 report showed that by this year, wind energy projects would cost the equivalent of $97.62 per megawatt hour (MWh) compared with $45.99 for black coal.
Yet a Climate Change Department spokesman said there was differing analysis of energy production costs.
“These costs are dependent on a range of underlying assumptions and electricity market modellers typically have different views on the levelised costs of different generation technologies,” he added.
Earlier this year the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism released estimates of the levelised costs of existing and new electricity generation technologies.
“These estimates … indicate that without a carbon price the estimated levelised cost per unit of electricity for a new coal-fired power station coming into operation in 2015 would be around $70 per MWh, while that for a new wind farm would be around twice as high at around $130 per MWh,” the spokesman said. “While a wind farm is emissions-free, each MWh of coal-fired electricity emits between around 0.8 and 1.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide.”
RURAL REVOLT AS SCREW TURNS ON FAMILY FARMS
FARMERS are being forced to sell their homes and communities are at war as resistance to a rural wind farm strategy threatens to erupt.
As some farmers profit from having turbines installed, NSW Liberal MP Alby Schultz said he was contacted by 17 families claiming they were being forced to sell up. Grazier Humphrey Price-Jones fears if multinational company Goldwind goes ahead with plans to build a wind farm on properties neighbouring his land outside Crookwell, in the state’s southern tablelands, he will have to sell up.
“We’re basically being forced from our land,” the 70-year-old said.
“And the community here, which was once a very cohesive little community, is now at war with itself.” He said he was worried about the health impacts of the turbines.
“Some houses would be rendered uninhabitable because the turbines would be too close to houses, plus they would destroy the rural amenity,” Mr Price-Jones added.
A report on the ABC’s Four Corners last night challenged claims of ill-effects from wind farms, with Professor Gary Wittert, from the University of Adelaide saying: “There is no hint of any effect on a population basis for an increased use of sleeping pills or blood pressure or cardiovascular medications.” Goldwind also defended the project, saying the 73 turbines would provide enough renewable electricity for 63,000 homes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 500,000 tonnes a year.
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