A planning modification to allow three Flyers Creek wind farm opponents to leave the project has had unintended consequences for a fourth landowner cut off from the rest of the project.
Infigen Energy flagged its intent to modify its development consent in August last year to remove three properties from the original proposal and Infigen spokesman Jonathan Upson said it would finally lodge the changes within the next two months.
“We have legally enforceable contracts, but that’s not attractive for us, so the proposal will allow the people who want to leave the project to leave,” he said.
If the modification is approved, the transmission line would be moved to Errowanbang Road.
But Mr Upson said the loss of the three landowners meant a fourth would also be removed from the project.
“He wanted to be part of it but we wouldn’t be able to access the turbine because he’s isolated by people who don’t want to be part of the project,” Mr Upson said.
The wind farm will shrink from 42 turbines to 37.
“But it’s made up by the fact that we’re contemplating higher capacity turbines,” he said.
“The size limit remains at 150 metres, but the turbines will be more efficient and larger capacity than what we were considering before so we’re not losing electricity generation.”
Once lodged with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Mr Upson hoped to have a decision by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Infigen will be seeking offtake agreements with energy retailers to secure funds for the remainder of the project.
Electricity retailers obligated to purchase renewable power to avoid penalties under the renewable energy target.
“Generally speaking, the retailers aren’t making enough stops to meet their obligations, but hopefully there’s more activity in the second half of this year,” Mr Upson said.
Infigen has until March 2019 to start construction and the company has spent the past year undertaking studies on the wind farm’s impact on the grid.
“We found it would improve the reliability of the grid because the electricity will be generated near Orange instead of 180 kilometres away,” Mr Upson said.
With Labor promising to have half the country’s power covered by renewables by 2030, Mr Upson was confident wind energy providers would avoid the upheaval the industry experienced during the Abbott years regardless of who won the federal election on Saturday.
“The current target will get us to about 23 per cent, so going from 23 to 50 per cent is a big climb – obviously a higher target would be a more favourable policy for our industry, but getting it through the Senate is another question,” he said.
“If the Turnbull government is returned the renewable energy target is still legislated, they’re not going to reduce it.”
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