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Wind farms project stalls in midst of green energy pricing vortex

Nearly 100 wind turbines in south-west Victoria are facing delays because of national uncertainty around green energy.

Union Fenosa has 98 turbines planned in Hawkesdale and Ryans Corner, near Port Fairy, but is struggling to find a power retailer to buy into the wind farms because of uncertainty with the pricing of green energy.

There are 67 turbines planned for Ryans Corner and 31 for Hawkesdale.

The clock is also ticking on the $400 million project, with the permit scheduled to expire next year.

If that happens, the size of the wind farm could be drastically reduced because of rules giving nearby landowners the right to veto the turbines within two kilometres of their home.

Those laws have led to at least one wind farm, at Naroghid, being scrapped, while the Penshurst wind farm is also being redrawn to meet the requirements.

Union Fenosa Wind Australia legal manager Thomas Mitchell told The Standard energy retailers were still unwilling to sign up to wind farms because the industry was still in a state of flux from changes to the carbon tax and next year’s renewable energy target review.

“The entire industry is frozen at the moment and it’s very frustrating,” Mr Mitchell said.

“It’s been very difficult for us and our buyers to get a final idea on what electricity will be worth in the next 10 to 15 years.

“The energy sector is a keystone sector in an economy and all players in our industry need long-term policy certainty to green light our investments in essential electricity infrastructure.”

Mr Mitchell said the company was also looking to renew its permit, rather than replace it with a new one that would include the strict setback rules.

“We’re having a discussion with the planning department,” he said.

“We would need to redesign many parts of the project.”

Mr Mitchell also gave assurances construction would be done with minimal impact on local roads.

“We have already made voluntary commitments not to use certain roads for heavy traffic (Spencers Road and Commercial Road in Koroit) and we’ve provided information about our upgrades at Youls Road and about the process of preparing a traffic management plan,” he said.