GOLDEN PLAINS WIND FARM

Project Summary

 

LOCATION: GOLDEN PLAINS SHIRE, ROKEWOOD, VICTORIA
TURBINES: UP TO 228
TOTAL TIP HEIGHT: UP TO 230m
WIND TURBINE ROTOR: 150m DIAMETER
INSTALLED CAPACITY: 800-1000 MW
ENERGY PRODUCTION: 3500 GWh ANNUALLY
HOMES POWERED: >500,000 HOMES
GREENHOUSE SAVINGS: >3.5M TONNES OF CARBON DIOXIDE ANNUALLY
SITE AREA: 16,739 HA
SHIRE RATES APPROX. $800,000 A YEAR
DEVELOPMENT COST: $1.5 – $1.7 BILLION
HOST LANDHOLDERS: 39
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Project Overview
The Golden Plains Wind Farm project involves the establishment of a wind energy facility including wind turbines and associated electrical infrastructure on 16,739 ha to the west, south and south west of Rokewood, a small rural town in the Shire of Golden Plains; approximately 60 km north west of Geelong. The site is located on land that is primarily used for agricultural purposes and has been substantially modified over time due to agricultural operations such as broad acre cropping and livestock grazing.

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 800-1000 MW project.

The Project has been through an extensive planning process over the past 3 years including the state’s highest level of environmental scrutiny, an EES (Environment Effects Statement). The Project has obtained state planning approval and has received its planning permit from the Victorian Minister for Planning.

The proposed development will consist of up to 228, 3-5 MW wind turbines. The project will generate over 3500 GWh per annum of electricity, enough to power more than 500,000 homes –and prevent more than 3.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted to the atmosphere each year.

Community Benefit Fund
Once operational, a community fund will be established to provide annual financial support of up to $228,000 a year ($1000 annually per constructed 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.

The CRG Terms of Reference are here: Golden Plains Wind Farm – Community Reference Group Terms of Reference

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, equal to an amount of 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 in 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 in perpetuity. The roads constructed by the developer give landholders all weather access across their property which improves management practices and emergency access.

The wind farm provides increased generation assets geographically closer to Victoria’s load centre (Melbourne and Geelong) which will reduce transmission losses and assist in grid stability.

EES and Planning Process Documentation

In June 2017, WestWind Energy submitted an Environment Effect Statement (EES) referral to the Victorian Government and a referral to the Commonwealth Government on whether the project is a controlled action under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC). In July 2017, the Federal and State Governments determined that the Golden Plains Wind Farm required an EES and that the project was a controlled action due to impacts on matters of national environmental significance (MNES).

In August 2017, the EES and a Planning Permit Application (PPA) was submitted to the Minister for Planning (the Minister) for consideration. The Minister then released the EES and the PPA to the public for consultation and exhibition. The Minister then appointed an independent joint inquiry panel to consider all public submissions, the EES and the PPA.

Following the recommendations of the independent panel that the Golden Plains Wind Farm should be approved the Minister finalised and released the EES (October 2018) and issued the Planning Permit in December 2018.

Federal approval of the controlled action was granted on 2 August 2019.