Economic study on King Island wind farm is “deeply flawed”

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The body spearheading community consultation for the King Island wind farm proposal has released new economic modelling on the costs and benefits of the project. Unfortunately for King Islanders, the study appears to be deeply flawed. It fails to provide meaningful information needed for informed decision making.

The TasWind Consultative Committee commissioned the consultancy CH2M Hill to investigate how King Island’s economy would fare with and without the wind farm. Due to narrow terms of reference it failed to account for some of the most important benefits the wind farm would deliver.

Pay close attention to the following passage (page 15):

“The construction of the TasWind Project under Model 1 will be accompanied by associated upgrades to existing port infrastructure, accommodation facilities, and the installation of a fibre optic telecommunication cable. Depending on the port design and other costs, these infrastructure upgrades may result in a range of indirect benefits to the King Island economy and community but further analysis will be required. While the impact of these indirect benefits has not been explicitly considered in the economic model, the potential benefits will not accrue to the King Island economy or community under Model 2.”

Not “explicitly considered” means not considered. You don’t have to be an economist (or a rocket scientist for that matter) to understand how upgraded port facilities and expedited access to the NBN will strengthen the local economy. CH2M Hill’s finding that King Island’s economy will be better off without the wind farm should be taken with a grain of salt.

The striking omission of improved port facilities and high-speed internet access also raises doubts about the consultation process. How on earth was such a deeply flawed methodology approved?

If the release of this flawed economic study demonstrates one thing, it’s that only a full feasibility study can provide King Islanders with accurate information on the costs and benefits of the wind farm. But not everyone wants a feasibility study to go ahead. Local wind farm opponents have engaged anti-wind farm campaigners and a PR firm to kill off the wind farm before it even gets to that stage.

In April, the No TasWind Farm Group hosted Sarah Laurie–who Renew Economy describes as a ‘dedicated anti-wind farm campaigner’–to present to the community about alleged health impacts of wind energy (these claims are thoroughly debunked by Professor Simon Chapman here). Laurie’s efforts have made headlines when it was revealed that Australia’s peak body for medical research, the National Health and Medical Research Council, is investigating the campaigner for breaching medical research ethics codes.

In May, Crikey reported that the No Tas Wind Farm Group had enlisted Sydney-based PR firm Wells Haslem to help turn the community against the wind farm proposal. Wells Haslem is a spin off from Jackson Wells PR, the firm which has worked for the climate change denying Galileo Movement and ‘Lord’ Christopher Monkton.

Clearing away the fog of misinformation, wind farms create jobs and investment for regional communities. A study Sinclair Knight Merz shows the wind energy sector is a boon for the regional towns. The report shows a typical 50-megawatt delivers $250,000 worth of income for host farmers each year; around $1.2 million flow-on benefits to the local economy; invest up to $80,000 in community projects each year; 48 jobs during construction and five ongoing jobs in operations and maintenance.


15 thoughts on “Economic study on King Island wind farm is “deeply flawed”

  1. VicWind needs to go head to head with the Waubra Guardian nutcases and show them up for the meretricious frauds they are. A town hall debate moderated by an independent person might do the job. Lets see the anti-wind brown shirts start kicking over chairs and shouting abuse first. They have done in the past.

  2. Seems you don’t like to swallow this bitter little pill Leigh. The study was an independent one which was organised by the TWCC and funded by Hydro. Unexpected result I guess.
    Upgraded port facilities? What does that mean? A bigger port for bigger ship(s) I would suggest.
    Check your facts, costs are related to tonnage; bigger ships, bigger port fees = increased freight costs; not cheaper.
    High speed internet? Oh the world can’t survive without high speed bullshit. I’m sure you’ll get this quick enough.
    And this is an island Leigh, where are the regional towns here?
    Face it, the numbers don’t stand up and a lot of people ( I believe over 450 Islanders have petitioned) don’t want 200+ turbines on this island.
    Dennis loves em, I’m sure he’d be happy to accommodate another 200 in Vic; that’s where the electricity is needed, you’re welcome to em! Enjoy.

    1. It’s hard to believe people are going to flock to King Island to play golf. Some will go once or twice but I doubt it will become a regular event for many, particularly when good golf courses exist all over the countryside on the mainland and Tasmania. But even if people did travel to KI to hit a little white ball, they would only be there for a short period of the year, hardly something to stake long-term employment on.

      One other point, people often like to invoke the uniqueness or beauty of a place as a reason to stop wind turbines. It’s strange that they always forget the landscape as already been modified by farming or other practices. There is a fair bit of intellectual dishonesty employed by wind farm opponents.

  3. thank you sean hants, ahhh someone who speaks sense, now Im not against renewable energy, im just against that being all king island is, put a wind farm this size elsewhere, have a look at woolnorth and musselroe, they are out of residential areas.

    1. All for wind energy, except anywhere near anyone especially her:

      Kelly Lancaster
      Well when I was on council I voted against them every time.
      They are no good as they can’t be relied on like conventional power generation
      They are noisy when co located in groups.
      The concrete they put in the ground to hold them will be there forever and the concrete will divert the natural flow of water through the soil
      Geo thermal power is much less intrusive both above the ground and below it

  4. You’re right Katherine, it’s up to King Islanders to decide whether they support a feasibility study to make an informed decision about the TasWind proposal. As stated in the blog post, Yes 2 Renewables are interested in observing the community consultation process. TasWind’s community engagement model appears to be best practice. I trust you’d agree it’s important for independent parties to examine the process and see what works and what doesn’t. The lessons learned on King Island will improve the way in which renewable energy companies and communities work together in the future.

    Talk about change your mind Charlie, Leigh you wrote this above comment, praising the importance of independant parties to examine the process and see what works and what doesn’t……blah blah blah and now your saying its biased, because you are not hearing what you want to hear huh maybs.

  5. Golfers? go figure! It is what it is, strangely dressed people with sticks belting a white ball to a small hole, in wonderfully beautiful landscapes, seems attractive to a lot of people. Seems harmless enough and apparently the business models have had their feasibility studies done with enough business acumen to proceed to the construction and investment stage.They seem to have a business model that works; without government handouts clouding the issue too.
    Compare that with the wind turbine proposal where they can’t even work out if the idea can work structurally or financially; but the lure of all those carbon credit $$$’s and government handouts and higher than usual green energy costs to consumers sure is tempting!

    I guess the people of King Island just may value their altered rural landscape as still a thing of beauty more than the potential Tas wind Industrial Turbines proposal (confusingly called a “wind farm” when it is really an industrial park).
    King Island is unique and beautiful and yes an altered environment, but that is just one of the reasons not to have the 200+ 150m turbines. Now there is the lack of financial credibility of the project as well as health concerns (oh not that one! look out here come mike and simon with burning crosses and the verbal lynch mob hunting down the blaspheming waubra coven).
    Get over it and move on.
    You want to do something useful energy wise? Clean up your act in Vic with Alcoa and their hugely energy consuming works (UP TO 25% TOTAL VIC ENERGY USE!) and filthy coal mine at Anglesea and smelters at Portland and Point Henry. Clean up that crap on your doorstep with sustainable renewable energy consumption and you’re well on the way to your 20% reduction target (if not surpassing it).Plenty of available space in the paddocks of the Surf Coast and Otway Shires to put another 200 wind turbines. See what the locals there think of that proposal.
    And yeah, that is an altered landscape also, but who gives a f#^***k?!

  6. hi Kelly,

    yes, we are interested in the process, and the type of information that is used to make decisions about wind projects. We are constantly concerned by the fear mongering that masquerades as information that is normally put into the public realm when anti-wind campaigners get involved.

    As part of the process we are, of course, assessing the credibility of all the information that’s put forward, and given that there does seem to be some legitimate criticism of the CH2M report, we have reported on that. I don’t think offering a critique of the report constitutes being ‘change our mind Charlies’ (thanks for this great new term, by the way).

  7. I would just like you to know that I am all for helping the environment as I have said to others on the debate page, my husband and I are dairyfarmers and farm organically, not certified though because no use at the moment, he scrapes the shit off the dairy yard every single day to compost then spread out on the farm, 90% or more work involved in that than getting a load of super spread out, and im not scared health wise either, I would be pissed off if heard them or I did feel like they were affecting me! I just don’t them to be filling king island, simple as that, look at the size of us, push for them to put them in their “phase 2” area on the three little islands below us, where no one lives and leave us alone.

    1. This is what Kelly writes on the King Island Wind Farm Debate page about the existing wind turbines. She has a skewed view of what is environmentally sound and a long history of being against all wind energy.

      Kelly Lancaster
      Well when I was on council I voted against them every time.
      They are no good as they can’t be relied on like conventional power generation
      They are noisy when co located in groups.
      The concrete they put in the ground to hold them will be there forever and the concrete will divert the natural flow of water through the soil
      Geo thermal power is much less intrusive both above the ground and below it

      1. no you dork I shared that on the debate page get your facts right, you obviously didn’t read everything with i,t which is what usually happens, it was the view of a friend of mine near warrnambool

      2. I urge those reading this to assess for yourself by reading Kelly’s comments on the King Island Wind Farm Debate page, where she is a strident antagonist, throwing any mud she can at wind energy in her zeal to stop the KI feasibility study from going forward.

  8. and I am not against all wind energy, I am quite happy with the 5 we have on the island and if the island needed a few more so that all we needed was wind energy then I would be all for it, I just don’t bloody think we need to have our frigging home covered in them for bloody other peoples benefit.

  9. Well said Kelly, everyone’s entitled to have a say, unfortunately sledgers like mike can’t seem to cope with opinions/views different to theirs, so play the messenger rather than the message, he’s just distracting from the real issues.
    I think many people off island (and maybe some on island)don’t realise that the turbine proposal has nothing to do about energy needs or provision to King Island residents or industry. .
    Seems mike fails to recognise these facts openly and publicly.
    It is apparent there is an increasing number of King Island residents who are opposed to the acquisition of 20% of the island for the purpose of an industrial development; in this case up to and maybe over 200 huge wind turbines. An inappropriate development.
    Opposed for a variety of reasons, none it would seem, because king islanders are anti-wind turbine. Quite the opposite.
    These turbines are purely and solely for sale of power to Victoria. It’s all about $$$$$’s
    The Victorian government recently just renewed the coal mine lease for Anglesea mine for another 50 years, used for 40% of Alcoa Point Henry smelter. Portland smelter is hooked into LoyYang B coal fired power till 2036! King Island would be used to offset these heavy carbon emitters.

    Hey there’s an idea, lets find some country bumpkins where we can dump a whole lot of mega turbines, chuck em a few dollars(maybe, maybe), and pick up some more $$$’s from tax credits and charge some bunnys extra $$$’s for buying green power, while we sell coal power cheap to huge energy consumers and polluters like Alcoa. Yeah, that could work.

    or maybe not! Dream on! Hydro tas have been feeding the King Island community a bullshit sandwich from day one, they should have used more bread and a better filling, the truth.

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