New England landholders flocking to host turbines

New England Wind are progressing their plans for a community wind farm in the New England tablelands of northern NSW. The following is their report (slightly edited) on the release of the feasibility study, which followed intensive community planning sessions. Videos of some of these sessions are linked to at the end.

“Nearly 120 landholders expressed interest in being considered to host turbines for the community wind farm…”

Feasibility Study Finalised

The New England Tablelands Community Wind Farm Pre-Feasibility Study has confirmed that there is very strong support for the establishment of a community wind farm. This finding reflects the overwhelming view from 1,300 community members and key stakeholders who participated in the survey, planning forums and meetings.

The Study identifies the key design principles and requirements for the community wind farm to ensure that the goals and requirements identified by the community and stakeholders will be incorporated into the community wind farm itself.

The Study recommends that a 16MW wind farm, of eight 2MW turbines or equivalent, be established ~ which will produce as much electricity as used by half of all the homes in the New England Tablelands. $30m capital will be required, averaging about $4,000 per dwelling covered.

Quick Poll results

82 people responded to the Quick Poll seeking feedback on the preliminary findings of the Study. Answers to the question “How comfortable are you with the proposed size of wind farm”are measured below:

KEY: 50 = About Right, 100 = Too Small, 0 = Too Big

There were many who responded challenging us to consider an even bigger wind farm, though there were a few who questioned whether it was too ambitious. It seems that the proposed size is probably about right. It will of course be subject to a range of other variables too, like the capability of the electricity grid to take the power, so we have some work ahead of us yet before exact numbers will be known.

The other question we polled was regarding the proposed ‘blended’ or ‘hybrid’ legal structure? The average rating of 70/100 (with 50/100 being comfortable, 100/100 being very comfortable and 0/100 being very uncomfortable) indicates again we are in the zone.

Comments made stressed the importance for strong, majority local ownership and decision-making with clear anti-takeover provisions. The other theme which came through strongly was the importance of the right professional people to lead and run the wind farm.

Site Analysis

Nearly 120 landholders expressed interest in being considered to host turbines for the community wind farm.

Work is now under way to assess these sites against the design principles and requirements identified in the Study. At this stage we believe that more than one dozen sites will satisfy the high standards set by the community as well as those required for a successful wind power operation (such as good wind and electricity grid access).

As specified in the Study Findings, a community decision making process will be used for the choice of actual site. The focus at the moment is to assess the different sites and gather key facts and figures to inform this decision making process.

Digital Stories

Five digital stories have been published to enrich the formal written reporting for the Feasibility Study. Each story reflects different parts of the community planning process, findings and recommendations as follows:

  1. Key Proposals ~ the size and structure
  2. Key Principles ~ the design of the community farm farm
  3. The difference between profit-making & a community wind farm
  4. A summary of all the community planning forums
  5. A dedicated story on the Glen Innes Forum

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