The future of the Crookwell 2 and 3 wind farms depends on a successful bid for a contract to supply the ACT with power.
Union Fenosa representative Mr. Tom Mitchell made this clear when he addressed Upper Lachlan Shire Council at its meeting last Thursday.
Combined cost of the two proposed wind farms, which will straddle a large area of farmland between Crookwell and Goulburn, is $322 million – with Crookwell 2 the major factor with a 92 megawatt capacity (cost $220 million), and Crookwell 3 much smaller at 58 megawatts ($102 million).
However, even if unsuccessful in the bid for an ACT contract Crookwell 2 will remain on the drawing board – it does not have a start-up time limit such as the five years applied to later wind farm approvals.
The ACT Government has decided it wants to become a centre of “green power,” and is seeking tenders from new wind farm developers to feed into the Canberra area.
The aim is to have 90% of Canberra’s power come from renewable sources.
Union Fenosa is also currently working on the development of a $287 million (178MW) wind farm project at Paling Yards, in Oberon Shire but close to the Upper Lachlan boundary.
This will have less impact on Upper Lachlan than Crookwell 2 and 3, although heavy transport from the Wollongong area may use Upper Lachlan roads.
Mr. Mitchell also commented that “a bit of certainty” in regard to Government wind farm policies would help in future planning.
This applied to both State and Federal Government.
“Wind remains the leading clean energy technology, so far as scale and price is concerned,” Mr. Mitchell said.
He added that solar panelling is reducing domestic demand, and there is a reduction in industrial demand.
Mr. Mitchell told Council that Union Fenosa was keen to use as much local resources as possible in the construction of the wind farms.
To this end businesses in both Crookwell and Goulburn had been contacted and invited to express interest.
“Goulburn businesses have responded well, but not so much from the Crookwell area,” he said.
He expressed the hope that Council could encourage more local businesses to contact Union Fenosa.
Council could also help by providing “constructive feedback.”
“Building a wind farm is a complicated task and our activities are closely observed by authorities and communities.
“If you see something we can do better, tell us about it.”
Council should also recognise that benefits could include community funding, scholarships, neighbour benefit sharing agreements, road upgrades, short-term construction employment and long-term skilled jobs in the region.
Meanwhile, the community committee formed by Union Fenosa for the wind farms has struck troubled waters, with disagreement between citizen representatives and the Company on the role it should play.
As a result several resignations have occurred.