Golden Plains Wind Farm
|LOCATION:||GOLDEN PLAINS SHIRE|
|TURBINES:||UP TO 235|
|TOTAL WEC HEIGHT:||UP TO 230m|
|WIND TURBINE ROTOR:||150m DIAMETER|
|ENERGY PRODUCTION:||3000 GWH ANNUALLY|
|HOMES POWERED:||>500,000 HOMES|
|GREENHOUSE SAVINGS:||>3M TONS OF CARBON DIOXIDE ANNUALLY|
|SITE AREA:||17,345 HA|
|SHIRE RATES||APPROX. $800,000 A YEAR|
|DEVELOPMENT COST:||$1.5 - $1.7 BILLION|
|CONSTRUCTION TIME:||4-6 YEARS|
About The Project
The Golden Plains Wind Farm is in the Golden Plains Shire, southeast and west of the small township of Rokewood. The proposed development will consist of up to 235, 3-5 MW wind turbines. The project will generate over 2500 GWH per annum – equivalent to the electricity consumption of more than 450,000 homes; and prevent more than 2.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually from being emitted to the atmosphere.
In 2006, WestWind began monitoring the wind resource in the Golden Plains Shire, specifically around the Barunah Park and Rokewood area. In 2016, WestWind completed further feasibility investigations into the proposed development site and made the commercial decision to pursue a planning permit for an 800 MW project.
The project is still in development with further environmental and cultural heritage studies still to be completed. WestWind anticipates that it will lodge a planning application with the Victorian Government by the end of this year.
WestWind Energy has held two successful open days (February and June) at the Rokewood Hall. More than 250 people came to speak to staff across the two days to find out more about the proposed development, share concerns, raise questions and provide ideas on ways the community could benefit from such a large development. In addition to the open days, WestWind Energy has also door knocked all neighbours within 5km of the proposal, giving people a greater opportunity to learn more about the development and ask questions relative to their circumstances.
COMMUNITY BENEFIT FUND
Once operational, a community fund will be established to provide annual financial support of up to $235,000 a year ($1000 annually per turbine) for a range of community based initiatives, projects and events that benefit local communities around the wind farm.
The fund will target a range of community needs including: health and social welfare, safety, environment, education and youth, sport and recreation, culture, arts and economic development.
The fund will be overseen by a Community Reference Group (CRG) – a group of volunteers that live around the wind farm site. The role of the CRG is to enhance communication between WestWind Energy and the community; enhance WestWind’s understanding of community issues; encourage community partnerships; and, ensure the local community benefits as a result of the wind farm project.
COMMUNITY INVESTMENT PROGRAM
As part of WestWind Energy’s commitment to sharing financial benefits with the community, a program will be initiated to facilitate host landholders and the community living within approximately 10km of the wind farm to invest financially in the project.
WestWind Energy believes community owned renewable energy is a fantastic opportunity for the community. Not only is community owned renewable energy a great way to improve our environment, it is also an opportunity for regional communities to come together and benefit economically.
Community-owned renewable energy can strengthen local communities, build community participation, and help educate people about renewable energy. It will also create training opportunities about wind energy, and generate a way for the local community to secure a financial return from their neighbouring wind farm.
ELECTRICITY OFFSET & ENERGY AUDIT SCHEME
This scheme will share the financial benefit across a larger section of the community, while at the same time reducing the carbon footprint of the community.
By providing green electricity to an amount equal to the average Victorian home at no cost to all non-host, habitable and registered primary dwellings within 3km of a constructed turbine, the community will directly benefit from the green energy produced locally.
The electricity off-set program will begin within six months of commencement of onsite construction of the wind farm.
The wind farm will also provide an energy audit for each of these dwellings to help homeowners understand how they can minimise electricity usage.
An assessor will visit each home to evaluate thermal and electrical performance, and provide energy assessments to prioritise the most appropriate solutions for energy usage in people’s homes.
FINANCIAL INCENTIVE PROGRAM FOR NEIGHBOURS
All neighbours that own a property with their primary residence on that property and where that primary residence is located within 2km of a constructed wind turbine (excluding host dwellings and dwellings located within the Rokewood township), will be provided with an annual financial incentive based on level of impact.
This incentive is calculated based on the number of turbines constructed within 2km of an eligible dwelling. Each of these neighbours will receive $1000 for each of the first three turbines, and $750 for each additional turbine that is constructed within 2km of their dwelling.
The annual payment will begin when construction of the foundation of the turbines within 2km of their dwelling is complete. This payment will be adjusted for CPI, and will continue while the wind farm is operational.
Host Landholder Benefits
The wind farm will provide >$3.5 million in annual income across 39 host landowners.
This economic boost to farmers enables them to secure supplementary income annually, for decades, through lease arrangements with the wind farm. This income provides a stable addition to farming income and helps to counteract swings of commodity prices and ‘drought proof’ farms.
There are no financial costs for farmers to be able to receive supplementary income, as the developer takes on the development costs and once the wind farm is constructed, farmers benefit from the partnership and on-going income throughout the life of the wind farm.
This sustains the farming practice and provides protection to the farming land for years to come. It also allows farmers to farm more sustainably by removing the pressure to maximise income from the land.
Some properties with high quality native vegetation and protected flora and fauna can secure additional income through environmental offsets that remain protected for decades. The roads constructed by the developer give landholders all weather access across their property which improves stock management practices and bushfire access.
The wind farm infrastructure also provides stronger grid stability with more capacity in the area. Lack of grid capacity is often a constraint for energy intensive farming practices.