Coonooer Bridge wind farm the first of its kind
A small wind energy project is proposed to north-east of Coonooer Bridge. The project aims to pioneer a new local-ownership model. A project company “Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm Pty Ltd” was recently established and will be jointly owned by CSIRO spin-out Windlab Systems and around 30 landholders in the vicinity of the proposed turbines.
Luke Osborne, a director of the newly established company and also an employee of Windlab, says “I became interested in wind energy as a landholder on the Capital Wind Farm near Bungendore. Over my 10 years in the industry I have seen that it can bring a new drought free income stream into regional areas. But I have also been increasingly convinced that the distribution of benefits needs to be fairer. On the Coonooer Bridge project the local landholders are involved from the start as shareholders and have a real say in the project”.
In addition to those that have already signed on, there may also be a limited opportunity for landholders as far as 5km from the turbines to buy shares in the project prior to construction of the turbines.
Windlab, one of only a few Australian-owned businesses in the industry, will supply expert personnel and the funding required to complete the planning application with community input. The planning application will be assessed by Buloke Shire Council.
In addition, a community fund is proposed. The project company is working with landholders to establish guidelines for the fund. Local landholders have been very keen to ensure that this funding is used for the benefit of the Coonooer Bridge community and surrounding region.
The project itself is small by the standards of the industry at just 4 or 5 turbines. The Macarthur Wind Farm is the largest in the state at 140 turbines. Despite its small size the project will produce enough electricity to supply the equivalent of St Arnaud, Charlton, Wedderburn, Inglewood and surrounding rural areas.