Plans for yet another massive wind farm have been unveiled for western Victoria.
This time it is Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s Squadron Energy which has plans to build a 420 megawatt Moreton Hill wind farm south-west of Ballarat with 62 turbines.
Victoria has some of the best wind resources in Australia.
Dr Forrest’s company says it has already held meetings with “potential turbine hosts” and has also started talks with local landowners bordering the proposed site between Pittong (10 minutes from Skipton) and Berrybank.
The giant Golden Plains wind farm is already under construction with 215 turbines across 16,739ha (41,363 acres) of mostly farm land between Geelong and Ballarat.
This Golden Plains project surrounds Rokewood, a small country town also south of Ballarat and within 50km of the proposed new wind farm.
The government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation has committed $175 million to the $2 billion project at Golden Plains which aims to start producing power in two years.
Construction has already begun on the first stage of Golden Plains with 122 turbines.
There are already numerous wind farms in the Ballarat region which was identified early on as having some of the best “wind resources” in the state.
Moreton Hill will be located in an area bounded by Glenelg Highway in the north, Wheatleys Road in the south, Mount Bute Road in the west and Knights and Rowes Lane in the east across Corangamite and Golden Plains local government areas.
Squadron Energy says the location has consistent wind resources and is an area “with a low population density”.
Squadron Energy already has several wind farms near Horsham and also has other renewable energy projects either operating or under development across New South Wales and Queensland.
They include the 224MW Bango wind farm near Yass in NSW and the 450MW Clarke Creek wind farm in central Queensland.
At Moreton Hill, the company hopes to have all its permits in place to start building the wind farm in three to four years.
In community advice, Squadron Energy says “in the coming weeks” it will meet with all landowners with a home within 4km of the proposed project site to discuss the project.
Farmers agreeing to host these turbines on their land can make between $4000 to $8000 per turbine year based on megawatt capacity.
These agreements can last 30 years and more, a financial windfall for the farmer who can still run stock around the giant structures.
This annual income can also be paid upfront with superannuation funds bankrolling schemes like that of Sydney-headquartered RELA where the lease money paid over many years to host a project like wind or solar farms is bundled up into one upfront payment often worth millions.
The Victorian government says there are 73 large-scale onshore wind and solar projects either commissioned or in commissioning in the state, with a combined capacity of more than 5.5 gigawatts.
Squadron Energy’s head of project development Alastair Smith said Moreton Hill was in the early phase of development and would be referred to the Victorian Government later in the year to determine whether it required an Environment Effects Statement.
“We are really excited to get the ball rolling on this major project that will bring benefits to the local community and will make a major contribution to our goals of a net zero future in Australia,” Mr Smith said.
“We’re committed to being a positive contributor to the communities where we work by sharing the benefits of our projects and supporting communities over the long term through a range of opportunities.”
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