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What’s in the wind for King Island

A two billion dollar investment on King Island is widely understood to be a wind farm investment led by the Hydro Electric Commission. While King Island meetings of council and community are being held this evening to discuss the project, ABC Northern Tasmania spoke with former Chair of the Hydro Electric Comission Peter Rae, who confirmed the project had been put forward last year during his time as Chair of The Tasmanian Renewable Energy Development Board.

The state government is on the eve of announcing a major investment for King Island by a government owned business.

King Island residents are tonight discussing the implications of a two billion dollar investment in renewable energy on the Bass Strait Island.

Mayor Greg Barratt has confirmed that the council are meeting before a community meeting is held to discuss a significant proposal of investment on the island.

Hydro has long used King Island to conduct research into wind and wave power, and while the island has a small renewable energy project in place, the size of this investment indicates enough power would be generated to supply 350 000 households.

Former Hydro Electrcity Commission (HEC) Chairman Peter Rae spoke at length with ABC Northern Tasmania Drive presenter Damien Brown about the significant benefits of such an investment, from the construction phase right throught o the end result of Tasmania being able to securely provide electricity into the South East Australian energy market.

Tasmania currently has a cable that Aurora Energy uses to connect to the electricity grid on the mainland, from George Town to Port Welshpool.

A two billion dollar wind farm would neccessitate additional infrastructure in order to deliver the power into the larger energy market.

Mr Rae compared such an investment with Hydro’s current Musselroe project, which at a cost of 400 million dollars is using 56 wind turbines.

“It will produce enough energy for about 70 000 homes, so if we do a multipier then we come out with something like 350 000 homes.”

“We picked King Island, many years ago, for the first Tasmanian trial of wind energy, and that was because it had an excellent wind regime.”

“The results have been very good over the years, and so it’s encouraging to the further development of the wind resource.”

Mr Rae exlpains the process that the HEC has gone through in creating wind farms in other parts of Tasmania, including community consultations, environmental issues, and the flow on effects for regional employement opportunities.

“In all the discussions which I’ve been involved over the 15 years or more with people involved in King Island, they have been very supportive of the wind farm development there.”

“It’s something which, when we prepared the report of The Tasmanian Renewable Energy Development Board and tabled it last year, one of the things I had crossing my fingers about, is that this sort of development might arrive for Tasmania.”

“I can only welcome it, and say let’s get on with it, I’m delighted to hear that it is happening.”

Mr Rae is also the Vice President of the World Wind Energy Association, and Chairman of the International Renewable Energy Alliance (REN Alliance).

He was Chair of The Tasmanian Renewable Energy Development Board, which last year produced and published a report to the Tasmanian Government providing its recommendations for the way to develop a renewable energy future for Tasmania.