The owner of a wind farm on Lake George’s eastern fringe could sell it, stirring criticism from opponents of a proposed $350 million project at Collector.
Infigen Energy has told the Australian Securities Exchange it is in the early stages of testing demand for the Capital Wind Farm, which began operating in 2009.
The Australian Financial Review has reported Infigen’s potential buyers could be pension funds, or Japanese trading houses with lower capital costs, while it could keep the role of operator. Infigen was burdened with about $1 billion of debt stemming from its times as Babcock & Brown’s wind investment.
Capital Wind Farm was worth more than $370 million when commissioned. Infigen also bought and commissioned a wind farm at Tarago from several investors, including ActewAGL, and has approval for Capital 2 wind farm comprising 41 wind turbines near Bungendore.
Opponents of another wind farm comprising 63 turbines at Collector say companies behind their development have no long-term commitment to the communities they divide.
Friends of Collector spokesman Rodd Pahl said wind developers were following a money trail of government incentives and selling farms on to people who did not have a relationship with the community.
He said even before the farm had been developed, proponent Transfield sold it to Thai power generation company Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding (which now has an 80 per cent stake).
Mr Pahl said other wind projects around Crookwell had been sold on to foreign companies.
”There is a responsibility for the people who start these projects to continue with them. If they are unable to, they are simply taking a windfall profit at the front end and passing it on to people who have less of a relationship.”
A supporter of the project, Collector farmer Gary Poile, hopes to host turbines on his property if the proposal goes through.
”The land we farm is cold and windswept in winter, and hot and windswept in summer,” Mr Poile said. He sees wind farming as the perfect way to diversify his beekeeping and sheep farming enterprises.
In October, Infigen Energy, which owns six wind farms in Australia, hosted a fun run on its new development at Woodlawn, east of Canberra, to win community support for the contentious power generator.
Infigen’s website says community relationships are very important and the company is involved with communities during the planning and development stages of new projects, and then during the life of each renewable-energy farm.
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