Monday, 5 August 2013

Vic wind farm breakthrough, with pioneering share structure

Wind farm-breakthrough-with-pioneering-share-structure
12 June 2013

A small 5 turbine wind farm project with an innovative share ownership model has become the first wind power project in the state of Victoria to receive council approval in recent years.

The application for the Coonooer Bridge wind farm-with five turbines of up to 150 metres tall to be built near the town of the same name, north-west of Bendigo-was approved by the Buloke Shire Council on Wednesday night. It is a notable project for several reasons. It is the first wind farm proposal to gain approval from a council in the state since former Premier Ted Baillieu introduced restrictive planning policies in 2011.

And the project-located between the towns of Charlton and St Arnaud, about 90km northwest of Bendigo-is also the first in Australia to find a way to combine corporate and community ownership, and the first renewable energy project in the country with an ownership structure that includes the local farming community in this way.

In all, 30 owners of property sited within 3km of the planned wind farm have been offered shares, including one family with turbines on their land. All have taken up the offer, despite the concerns about wind power of some. Windlab Systems, a spin-off from the CSIRO which has developed an expertise in identifying strong wind resource areas, retains the majority stake.

"We wanted to create a fair and open relationship with all landholders around the site, not just the landowners who would lease land for turbines", says Luke Osborne, director of Coonooer Bridge wind farm Pty Ltd, who spent 12 months putting the agreement together.

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