Wind farms fan economic prosperity

Wind farms fan economic prosperity


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DIVERSIFICATION: Wind turbines in Hallett have provided farmers with an alternative form of income, which was particularly useful during the recent drought.

DIVERSIFICATION: Wind turbines in Hallett have provided farmers with an alternative form of income, which was particularly useful during the recent drought.

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THE HALLETT wind farm in the State's Mid North is delivering on its promise to bring $6.25 million annually in operational value to the region, according to AGL.

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THE HALLETT wind farm in the State's Mid North is delivering on its promise to bring $6.25 million annually in operational value to the region, according to AGL.

This is despite the construction of one group of turbines - Hallett 3 - in the five-stage project remaining on hold. The figure is based on wages for employees and gross operating surplus, but excludes the costs of materials.

AGL project manager Tim Knill says the community has benefited significantly from increased investment in the region. Completion of Hallett 3 would bring the annual value to $7.5m.

"Local employment has been boosted significantly during the construction phases and we now have 36 full-time roles specifically to support the wind farms, which is expected to grow," he said.

"AGL continues to operate the community information centre at Burra and we have significant interest from tourists visiting the area."

Mr Knill said a community funding scheme launched in 2006 had also resulted in AGL contributing more than $240,000 to local community organisations and schools, including more than $67,000 in 2011.

"These funding arrangements will continue for the operational life of the wind farms," he said.

The last stage of the farm was completed in December.

Called Hallett 5, it is a 25-turbine, 52.5 megawatt farm on Range Bluff that will be handed to AGL Energy by contractors, Suzlon Energy Australia, in a matter of weeks.

It follows the completion of Hallett 4 in early 2011, which produces 132mgW from 63 turbines near Jamestown, which adds to 94.5mgW produced by Hallett 1 (45 turbines near Jamestown) and 71.4mgW from Hallett 2 (34 turbines near Mt Bryan).

Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North chief executive officer Kelly-Anne Saffin said the wind farms were particularly useful during the recent drought, when their construction brought a diversification of income.

Housing occupancy rates increased significantly, and with an estimated 98 full-time workers directly employed on-site at any one time, flow-on expenditure had been noticed by businesses throughout the area.

"And, in terms of ongoing returns, a maintenance centre has been set up in Jamestown," Ms Saffin said.

"So we are seeing localised maintenance crews based around the Mid North and that definitely has economic impact."

Jeff Rowe Transport owner Jeff Rowe, Jamestown, says up to a dozen new families have established themselves in town - a result of being employed at wind farms.

As well as profiting himself by leasing a maintenance shed to Suzlon Energy, he said farmers were reaping benefits by earning close to $8000 a year for each turbine on their land. "There must be about 160 turbines in the area," Mr Rowe said.

"Multiply that by $8000 and that's a lot of money coming into the district that is totally non-farm related.

"It's coming regardless of drought, floods or whatever."

*Full report in Stock Journal, February 2 issue, 2012.

The story Wind farms fan economic prosperity first appeared on Farm Online.

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