Region set to prosper from wind

Central Highlands has four operational wind farms, three wind farms approved and an eighth in the pipeline. Waubra, pictures, is the region's largest operation wind farm.
Central Highlands has four operational wind farms, three wind farms approved and an eighth in the pipeline. Waubra, pictures, is the region's largest operation wind farm.

Western Victoria is primed to prosper from the country’s energy crisis with the approval of the state’s biggest wind farm this week, Committee for Ballarat says. 

Pyrenees Shire’s Stockyard Hill Wind Farm was given the green light by Planning Minister Richard Wynne on Wednesday. 

Stockyard Hill Wind Farm will have 149 turbines and generate 530 megawatts of power – enough for 340,000 homes. The wind farm, near Lake Goldsmith, is expected to be operational by 2019.

Central Highlands has four operational wind farms with a wind farm slated to be the biggest in the southern hemisphere in the works at Rokewood.

Two wind farms – at Lal Lal and Moorabool – have received planning approval. 

Committee for Ballarat chief executive Melanie Robertson said the region was set to become Australia’s renewable energy centre.

“We’re very lucky that Western Victoria is potentially in a position to prosper from a crisis and we need to take full advantage of that and wind energy is the cheapest form of energy we can put into our system,” Ms Robertson, who previously managed the region’s largest wind farm at Waubra, said. 

Ms Robertson called for innovative policy to put downward pressure on electricity prices – which are tipped to become the most expensive they have ever been in 2018. 

“We don’t have enough supply or we’re very, very close to the limits of supply and therefore the price is being elevated so it’s really critical we get more energy or more supply into our system as soon as possible to bring price relief.

“The impact isn't just on companies or a political level - it’s going to hurt everybody.”

The state government on Wednesday approved a planning amendment which would see the number of turbines drop from 157 to 149, with an increased height of 180 metres. 

The increase in turbine height is expected to increase generation output by 45 per cent, industry sources said. 

“This amendment means the Stockyard Hill Wind Farm will still be able to power hundreds of thousands of Victorian homes – but with fewer turbines,” Mr Wynne said. 

The wind farm was sold by Origin Energy to Chinese company Goldwind Global in May for $110 million.

A purchaser agreement between the two companies will see Origin buy the power generated at Stockyard Hill until at least 2030. A separate permit granted on Wednesday will pave the way for a 75-kilometre transmission line to connect the wind farm to the national grid, while a new quarry on the wind farm site will provide rock for foundations and roads – reducing the number of trucks on local roads during construction.