Two wind farms, at Portland and Cape Bridgewater, are up for sale.
Within days of the sometimes controversial wind farms being placed on the market, interest has been shown from potential buyers.
IFM Investors, owners of Pacific Hydro, placed the facilities on the market a few days ago. Industry sources indicate there have been some expressions of interest, but no sales documents have yet been signed.
A global fund entity owned by 30 Australian superannuation funds, IFM has confirmed the wind farms will continue to operate while a new owner is found.
“We take a farsighted view of the future and can invest unencumbered by shareholder conflict of interest because our ownership model is unlike any other financial institution,” a company statement said.
Three international financial giants, Europe’s Credit Suisse and American stockbroker Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, have been given authority by IFM to look for suitable buyers for the local wind farms, with an overseas buyer considered by industry analyses as the most likely choice.
Any buyer would consider the almost finalised agreement over Australian’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) in its purchase deliberations.
A deal between the Commonwealth Government and the opposition will see the RET wound back to 33,000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy by 2020, down from its previous level of 41,000 gigawatt hours. The government had earlier sought a lower target, but the new compromise was reached after the ALP and the renewable energy industry each indicated they would be willing to agree on a level in the low-30,000s to end the stalemate.
When the projected sale was first announced, Member for Wannon Dan Tehan defended IFM’s right to make the deal.
“In the end, these are commercial decisions or the businesses involved and they have every right to decide to do these things if they think that’s in their best commercial interests,” he said.
Mr Tehan has come under criticism for advocating strongly for an RET agreement to protect Portland jobs. Cape Bridgewater resident Sonia Trist, who said her home is been rendered uninhabitable by the close proximity of wind turbines, said she was disappointed.
“You have taken the populist, short-lived route,” she wrote in a letter later published. “Close attention and comprehension of wind industry practises would have served you very well.
“Transparency, directness of concern and honourable regard for your political obligations are what your constituents rightfully expected of you. They trusted you with their vote.”
In a related matter, there’s been concern about what acoustician Steven Cooper can and cannot present to a meeting in Pittsburg [sic] Pennsylvania of the Acoustics Standard Board of the Acoustical Society of America. Mr Cooper carried out extensive tests at three Cape Bridgewater homes where residents reported ‘sensations’ that they associated with wind farm operations close by.
When a Senate panel interviewed Andrew Richards of Pacific Hydro in Portland on March 30, Senator Matt Canavan asked Mr Richards if Mr Cooper had permission to use Cape Bridgewater data in his American presentation.
“We are happy to provide him with an ongoing licence to use that intellectual property,” Mr Richards told the panel.
This week, Mr Richards clarified his approval.
“We maintain that despite what has been said in the past, Mr Cooper has always been able to use and reproduce the report. That licence was granted to him as part of the original agreement signed in April 2014. It is our understanding that if he is using and reproducing the report (including using data that is contained in the report via charts, graphps, etc) in Pittsburg or elsewhere then he is already free to do so.
“However, we are yet to agree that he can use our data, which is our property and what we consider to be confidential, to produce other things for personal or commercial gain.”
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