A major wind farm project south-east of Ballarat has taken another step forward, hooking up its second area to the grid to generate power.
The Lal Lal Wind Farm's Elaine section, which includes 22 turbines, achieved "generator registration" under the National Electricity Rules and is now generating "on a commercial scale", according to a Lal Lal spokesperson.
However, work is still required to complete commissioning on the project - one turbine seen on Monday had no blades attached.
READ MORE: Check out our interactive wind farm map
The other section, the 38 turbines installed near Yendon, began generating electricity in June last year.
Those turbines are not yet generating at full capacity due to grid constraints, the spokesperson added - while 144 megawatts have been installed, the plant can only operate at 42 megawatts.
"When all turbines are operating and grid constraints are lifted the project will be complete and will then move into the operations phase," they said in a statement.
"We anticipate this will occur by the middle of the year."
There will be six ongoing full-time positions created for turbine maintenance from the project, with additional contractors engaged to provide permit compliance and maintenance services throughout the project's estimated 25-year life.
The Australian Wind Alliiance's national coordinator Andrew Bray said in a statement ongoing work on large-scale wind farms could create more jobs to help recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn.
"The Victorian government has indicated they are ready to help deliver the new transmission network needed to enable these job-creating projects and we encourage them to outline their plans," he said.
"Wind energy provided around 12 per cent of Victoria's energy in the last year. With Lal Lal coming online and another eight wind farms being built around the state, we can expect clean wind energy to contribute well over a fifth of Victoria's electricity within two years time."
This would be crucial for regional areas, he added.
"Ballarat is becoming one of Australia's leading centres for wind energy, exporting clean power to the rest of the state and opening up new opportunities for value-adding in training and industry," he said.
"The City of Ballarat is also taking advantage of low-priced renewable energy, participating in a power purchase agreement (PPA) with 49 other Victorian municipalities."
The Lal Lal spokesperson added the electricity generation market was undergoing "large scale transition" to renewables, which has brought challenges, but the communities in Elaine and Yendon would continue to be kept up-to-date.
"The community reference group will continue to meet quarterly," they said.
"The community benefit fund opens in May for the 2020 round. There is $100,000 available for local community groups. The landscaping program also continues for neighbours within four kilometres of the nearest turbine, until November 2020."
Across the district, the first 50 turbines have been installed at the Moorabool Wind Farm, south of Ballan.
The project, which will eventually generate about 321 megawatts, is in two parts - the northern sector has now finished construction, according to an update from the company.
Environmental reinstatement and rehabilitation has begun, as well as work on the substation.
"Handover of Ballan-Egerton Road to Moorabool Shire Council for maintenance" has also occurred, the update states - wind farms have arrangements with council to fix roads affected by heavy traffic during construction.
In the southern sector, 35 tower sections have been installed out of the 54 foundations completed.
At Stockyard Hill, between Skipton and Beaufort, 69 turbines have been installed and 17 are in the pre-installation stage, with four cranes working across the site.
The wind farm will eventually have a capacity of about 530 megawatts when completed.
"It's important to note the wind farm has not yet commenced commissioning the project, therefore no turbines are operating," a construction update states.
Both wind farms are closely following guidelines on managing COVID-19, the updates state, including working in smaller teams and not socialising at break times.
Mr Bray said the ongoing work is "critical".
"Wind farms under construction at Stockyard Hill and Moorabool are continuing to progress with the appropriate adjustments to work practices to manage COVID-19," he said.
"This provides valuable ongoing employment at a time when every job in the region is critical."
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