TrustPower offer payments to wind project neighbours

Published by www.reneweconomy.com.au. View original post.

New Zealand wind farm developer TrustPower is proposing to pay owners of properties neighbouring wind farms – as well as the turbine hosts – in a model it will likely adopt in other projects.

TrustPower is proposing to create a series of “sliding scale” payments to property owners near its proposed $700 million Palmer wind project in the Mt Lofty ranges east of Adelaide in South Australia.

Payments of up to $2,000 a year will be offered to property owners with a boundary within 1km, or a residence within 2kms of a wind turbine.

TrustPower Business Development Manager Rodney Ahern said it is the first time in Australia that a wind farm developer has voluntarily offered to make such payments.

“The scheme is intended to engage the community in situations in where they may feel they may be affected in some way by the presence of the wind farm and should be included in the benefits generated by the project,” Ahern said in a statement.

While this particular model may be unique, other wind farm developers have looked to engage nearby residents in payment or ownership structures. In Victoria, the small 5-turbine Coonooer Bridge wind farm got local approval after offering shares in the project to owners of neighbouring properties.

Infigen Energy is seeking to engage local residents by offering ownership of one of its turbines in the Flyer’s Creek project near Orange.

The Palmer project is a challenging one because it is spread over 30kms. TrustPower recently removed 6 turbines from its plans and changed the proposed location of 84 of the remaining 124 turbines. A final application has been delayed until early next year.

Ahern told RenewEconomy that TrustPower is looking at similar payment proposals for wind projects in Victoria and NSW.

In western Victoria, the 270MW Dundonnell project near Mortlake In South Australia, the company is offering such payments to households and properties within the 2kms setback of the 104 turbines.

Under Victorian rules, approval from residents is required before a project can go ahead. “That is how you get people’s blessing,” Ahern said of the proposed payments. A similar scheme is also being considered for the Rye Creek project near Yass, being built with Epuron.

“The scheme is intended to engage the community in situations in where they may feel they may be affected in some way by the presence of the wind farm and should be included in the benefits generated by the project,” Ahern said in a statement.

Snowtown64The payments would be attached to each property and continue through any change in ownership, this providing a permanent income – and increased land value – for the properties affected.

“While there is an obvious benefit to landowners who will host wind turbines on their properties, there has been no obligation on developers to spread that benefit to directly neighbouring properties,”  he said.

TrustPower already operates the 48-turbine Snowtown 1 wind farm in South Australia (pictured) and is currently constructing the 90-turbine Snowtown 2 extension.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s